"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

How quick are attitudes changing with football?

Joe Scarborough says he watched less football than usual last year, and he'll watch still less in the future. Still, football gets the kind of attention that suggests many of us are still riveted. The Star Tribune has a sports section that screams sports news at us daily. We see those huge photos.
Sports is simply a form of entertainment. Why does it warrant such attention? Impressionable young people notice this. They realize that if they can go out on that beautiful green football field, cheers can shower down on them. It happens here in Morris. Big Cat Stadium has a beautiful green playing surface. We sure appreciate the aesthetic qualities when the Irondale marching band comes here in summer. That's the best thing that happens at that facility all year.
In the fall, we see our local young men and UMM athletes bang against each other. Young men get violently thrown to the turf. They have collisions on punts, kickoffs and other plays. Yes, there is risk of injury in other sports. But football is a problem because violence is the whole idea.
It has gotten worse. Kids engage in year-round conditioning, implored by their coaches. The coaches know they have to win. If the communities would just stop paying attention, how much better off we'd all be. It's our fault: the community members.
Wake Forest University researchers have found that high school football players can undergo significant brain changes after only a single season, even if they don't get a concussion.
The study's author noted the amount of attention this issue has received at the NFL level. He noted that 70 per cent of people playing football are adolescents. It's an "understudied population," Christopher Whitlow said.
The student-athletes were divided into two groups: heavy hitters and light hitters. Whitlow reported that the heaviest hitters "exhibited the most brain changes." Brain changes? And you really want to allow your sons to play this sport?
A trend of skepticism has begun developing about football. Thus we have the statement from Joe Scarborough (of MSNBC) that I quoted at the start of this post. How fast will this skepticism grow? That is a very fascinating thing to speculate upon. I gather that the conventional wisdom up 'til now is not real encouraging. There is a general feeling, it seems, that boys will continue playing football because, well, we just can't imagine life in America without football.
The sport burgeoned because of advances in television technology and quality. The big jump occurred, or got going, in the mid-1960s. Football went from a fairly popular sport to an obsession. That obsession stands as the big obstacle in 2015 to the health and safety of our young male population.
Players at the college level are significantly bigger and faster compared to the 1960s. High school coaches make speeches at banquets strongly encouraging their players to lift weights in the off-season. It's important to dish out all that punishment. Problem is, kids are being real hurt by this advanced football culture.
I can't believe parents are so stupid as to think their own personal enjoyment of football on weekends outweighs the concern they ought to feel about their own children. But I've been wrong before. Maybe as time goes on, though, I won't be wrong.
Can public sentiment change quickly on a significant issue? It has happened with gay rights. Commentators regularly speak with shock and surprise about how quickly the sentiment on gay rights has evolved. It can happen also with this football obsession. I'm sure there are lots of Joe Scarboroughs out there. Maybe we'll see that steady evolution, that realization that football is, at its heart, an anachronistic sport, conjuring up a time when we groomed young men to be warriors in those big wars we regularly got involved in. The days of sending masses of young men with guns toward an enemy have faded. Conflicts today are of more of a pinprick nature, with Special Forces etc. It's still tragic.
Can you imagine the horrors of war that could have been revealed by the Internet if the Internet had existed at the time of the Battle of the Bulge? The Internet restricts the power of the government to apply blinders to us.
Football as some sort of macho proposition for boys has quickly reached obsolescence. Big Cat Stadium in Morris could be transformed into something more healthy and uplifting than a place where young men smash into each other. Whenever I see a young man sprawled out on the field or sideline, being attended to by a trainer or medical people, I ask "why?" Why couldn't these young men have just stayed home that night, maybe reading a book or spending time on the computer?
Gladiators, no - please no.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com


  1. well given the events of the past wk I do not think that will happen