If I Had A Son (or Daughter), Would I Let Him/Her Play Football?

The NFL’s  Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers getting it on. Photo courtesy of profootballweekly.com

 

I’ve seen it on ESPN and Fox Sports reports and documentaries.

I can vividly recall my heart breaking when I saw former Chicago Bears quarterback and basic sunglasses-wearing bad-ass Jim McMahon struggling to remember where his home was on outings.

Not to mention big names such as McMahon’s Bears teammate Dave Duerson and former San Diego/just moved to Los Angeles Chargers and USC  linebacker legend Junior Seau kill themselves.

And I’ll never forget the sad condition of Mike Webster, the Pittsburgh Steelers center from the Super Bowl glory days of the 1970s, who was the same age as I am now (fifty) when he passed away of a heart attack.

All because of Cardio Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, which is essentially brain damage caused by way too many concussions.

Which these guys – and many more football players (and hockey players, too; can’t forget them) I may add – have suffered from for so long as recent research found that out of 111 brains of former football players studied, all but one showed signs of CTE.

It’s at the point where for the past couple of years, whenever I watch a football game one of my first thoughts is this…

“I hope his head’s OK.”

I think that’s a main reason behind me, despite liking the pigskin game as much as the next guy, preferring baseball.

A thought came to me very recently regarding all of this on a personal level:

 

CELEBRATING UNDER THE FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Hart High School’s football team, from Newhall, CA, after winning a CIF championship. Photo courtesy of archive.signalscv.com

 

 

IF I HAD A CHILD – WHETHER IT WAS A SON OR EVEN A DAUGHTER (Plenty of girls have liked the sport enough to have played it and want to play it) – WOULD I LET HIM/HER PLAY FOOTBALL?

I won’t waste any more time on answering this:

If it was flag football in a Parks and Recreation league, sure!

That brand of the game is obviously much safer, with no tackling.

Now the big question; if it was a Pop Warner tackle league or a high school team…

My Answer: YES – if my kid really wanted to do it.

There would be one condition I would put upon my youngster before I signed the form, paid the entrance fees, signed up for the booster club, etc…

The first concussion my child suffered on the gridiron, he/she would be immediately pulled from the field by me – or I would order the coach to – and would be done for the season.

Like any other sane parent, I would take no chances with my loved one’s health.

He or she would be gone, then have a complete brain scan at the beginning of pre-season practice – and pass with flying colors – the next year before I would let them take the field.

I can’t make it clearer than that.

For all those parents and loved ones whose children are doing battle on that 100-yard space, whether he’s a eight-year old in Pee-Wees, a 16-year old under the Friday Night Lights, or a five-star recruit at one of the country’s collegiate football kingdoms,

I pray that your kid gets through this season concussion-free.

 

Action from a Pop Warner game. Photo courtesy of readingpopwarner.com

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Is The Quest For Full Civil Rights and Brotherhood Failing In America?

 

 

 

 

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Our nation’s President making a commemoration speech at the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, AL on the 50th anniversary of the March from that point to Montgomery

 

Policemen getting away with murdering young unarmed Black men like Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.

Fraternities singing graphically bigoted songs; does anyone think that the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma is the only Greek Letter organization that partakes in that sort of thing? FAR from it!

A fraternity at the University of Washington jeering and throwing things at a parade of people protesting the goings on at Oklahoma.

The young African-American student at the University of Virginia that was recently beaten up by cops.

A ten-year old white girl writing to her Black friend that her father wouldn’t allow her to attend her birthday party because of the color of her skin.

Various courts undermining details of a 1965 Voting Rights Act that so many people marched, were jailed, and died for.

Continued racial profiling and traffic stops for the crime of “Driving While Black”.

Continued hostilities over the fact that the President of the United States for the past six years has been a man of color.

Personally reading the most brutally racist comments at the end of online articles covering racial issues or incidents.

Considering these and other tensions stemming from race, ethnicity and culture, I believe I’m justified in wondering if the 150-year quest (I’m dating it to the end of the Civil War and the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, in 1865) for true equality, love, and brotherhood in America is failing.

If Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of a nation where one is judged by the “…content of their character” is rapidly on its way to being over and lost, if not already such.

All of this reminds me of two things that I once read, the first one being this:

“…black and white players on a whole talk differently, walk differently, listen to different music, drive different cars, and even dress differently…these differences breed mistrust.”

Tim Green, a former player in the National Football League, wrote this in his book The Dark Side of the Game to describe race relations in his league.

He was talking about an entity where one would think that things are all hunky-dory, given that over 60% of the NFL’s players are African-American.

So one can easily imagine what things can be and – from what I’ve seen as of late – are in regular society.

Personally, I would have added this to what Green wrote:

“These differences breed discomfort, which breeds mistrust.”

That, I feel, is a main root of all these tensions and incidents, the fact that as one approaches adulthood, they have a tendency to – socially and otherwise – gravitate to others based on what they have in common, base their friendships on such.

Race and culture is among those bases.

Not that I’m implying – at all – that I approve of this, but that’s the cold, hard truth.

As is the fact that there will be always a segment of Caucasians of European descent who will always see Blacks – and other people of color for that matter – as inferior beings whom should never be near where they are, whether in neighborhoods, schools, or anywhere else.

The book Friday Night Lights, depicting a high school football team in West Texas and the social life and nuances of the town that fanatically supports them, illustrates this concept quite well in that nearly all of the town’s whites, who hold very conservative views regarding virtually everything there is to hold views on, commonly regard to black as “N*****s”

And think nothing of it as according to author H.G. Bissinger:

“In (whites’) minds it didn’t imply anything, didn’t indicate they were racist, didn’t necessarily mean they disliked blacks at all. Instead, as several…explained it, there were actually two races of blacks…the hardworking ones who…didn’t try to cut corners…And then there were the loud ones, the lazy ones, the ones who…every time they were challenged to do something claimed they were the helpless victims of white racism.”

 

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At a Ferguson protest; as for the sign, I couldn’t have said it better…

 

Another telling passage from the book concerning this issue:

“What was wrong with the use of that word (n*****)? Wasn’t that what they were? Let a judge shove school desegregation down their throats. Let the federal government have all the free handout programs it wanted. It wasn’t going to change the way they (whites) felt.”

A restaurant owner in that area describes his opinion of blacks bluntly:

“…I live (in my neighborhood) because I want to live with people like me and I don’t want kids bused in from the black side of town…Mexico’s nothing but a big god***n pigpen.”

And in an editorial from this town’s newspaper during the aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement:

“If there are those who insist on integrated schools, let them. Those who prefer all-white schools, or all-black schools, likewise should be allowed to exercise their choice.”

The worst part of all of this is that these views were voiced in the late 1980s, when the book was written.

And more importantly, judging from recent events these views are still alive and well a decade and a half into the 21st century, not only in West Texas,

Not only all over these United States,

But throughout the world; check out the reports of soccer fans in Europe making monkey noises and throwing bananas at black players sometime.

And lets not ever forget the dark days of apartheid in South Africa that ended just over twenty years ago.

It all comes down to one thing, that I honestly feel that Dr. King and his Civil Rights associates may have overlook in their struggle:

REGARDLESS OF HOW MANY MARCHES, SIT-INS, LAWS OR “I HAVE A DREAM” SPEECHES, YOU CANNOT FORCE BROTHERHOOD OR ACCEPTANCE OF A RACE OR CULTURE ON SOMEONE WHO HAS NO INTEREST IN IT.

I reckon some who are reading this may be thinking that I’m blanketing all whites with regard in how African-Americans, Latinos, and other people of color are viewed.

Let me firmly state that nothing can be further from the truth, as I know full well that in the forty years since Dr. King’s assassination in 1968, things have gotten much better in society as integrated neighborhoods, romantic relationships and marriages are at an all-time high.

And thanks to what the Civil Rights Movement accomplished, I have never seen a “Whites Only” sign anywhere, nor have I ever had to sit in the back of a bus or have been denied service at a store or a restaurant or anywhere else.

But racist experiences has not eluded me as I was called the n-word as a little boy, racially profiled in my 20s and 30s, and although the prospective employer said that it was because someone “asked first” denied one job in particular clearly because of the color of my skin.

So at the end of the day, the question remains:

Is the quest for full civil rights and brotherhood along racial and cultural lines failing in America?

Lots of folks would say no to that question, considering all the incidents.

As for me, the only thing that come to my mind is this:

I certainly hope not, because it would mean an extreme sense of heartbreak and an ultimate sense of losing if this century-and-a half quest indeed fails.

 

 

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A symbolic protest against SAE’s actions at the University of Oklahoma; encouraging to see whites involved as well as African-Americans