13.Oct.2009 I don't hate Tim Tebow
I’ve often said I hated Tim Tebow. I really don’t. It’s just that he’s too good. When he took that hit against Kentucky I was initially happy (not that he was suffering from a concussion) that he might not be the only person college football analysts talked about the following week. But, I’m wrong.
I think they got over the severe concussion a little too fast. I mean, the guy was puking his brains out and had to be rushed off the field. If that had happened to me “on the job”, I still might not be at work (I certainly wouldn’t be having much fun reading a bright computer screen all day). It seemed that most people just were hoping that the two weeks off were enough time for him to get back on his feet and back to “Superman” status (honestly, there was a headline in FL after the LSU game that read “Superman Returns”).
This past weekend I watched a bunch of football games, in all of them there were nasty collisions that encouraged cheers from the crowd and celebrations by the players. In a couple of games it was obvious that a player had been knocked out (as they lay prone on the ground, sometimes still clutching the ball or holding their limbs out, as if they were frozen). Don’t get me wrong, I love football. I find it fascinating to watch and enjoyable to talk about. But the number of injuries and the increasing reports of head trauma reported by former players really makes me uneasy about the sport. In a recent New Yorker magazine article, Malcolm Gladwell goes to far as to draw an analogy between dog fighting and football: he says that players are hand picked for their ability to put the team and the team’s goals above their own personal well-being (loyalty to the team = desire to win = ability to sacrifice personal health).
Taking or delivering a great hit is part of the game (one of Gladwell’s strongest critiques of the sport). But the level at which these collisions occurs is insane. For example, hits on the football field (at the college level) can equate to a 45 mile an hour car collision! But it’s not as if the players are getting in one collision a game, in fact, they’re in dozens of collisions every practice.
…In an average football season, a lineman could get struck in the head a thousand times, which means that a ten-year N.F.L. veteran, when you bring in his college and high-school playing days, could well have been hit in the head eighteen thousand times: that’s thousands of jarring blows that shake the brain from front to back and side to side, stretching and weakening and tearing the connections among nerve cells, and making the brain increasingly vulnerable to long-term damage. (Gladwell, “Offensive Play” The New Yorker 2009 p.5)
And what do these collisions and concussions cause? Dementia and other memory loss afflictions.
I am part of a family dealing with the hardship that dementia and Alzheimer’s can cause. I can tell you only one thing: if it’s preventable, do whatever you can to stave it off.