The football industrial complex is facing its biggest 3-letter crisis since the XFL — CTE research has clearly established the link between football activity and brain damage.
CTE, an acronym for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is a progressive brain disease that can result in dementia, violent mood swings, severe depression, and delusions as a result of repetitive sub-concussive hits. In other words, even players that don’t get big concussions while playing are still subject to serious health consequences. It’s not even just pro players. The Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University found CTE in the brains of 32% of all males who had any documented history of playing the sport, even at an amateur level.
In light of this research, Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered CTE alongside his mentor Dr. Ronald L. Hamilton, has urged people to not let their children play football. He wrote a piece in the New York Times called “Don’t Let Kids Play Football” where he wrote: “Our children are minors who have not reached the age of consent. It is our moral duty as a society to protect the most vulnerable of us.”
President Obama has said that if he had a boy he wouldn’t want him to play the game.
In response, some football defenders have called concussion research an attack on the game. ESPN analyst Danny Kanell referred to it as a “war on football.”
Listen, I’ve been a fan of pro football my entire life and I come from a city that treats the sport with religious reverence. It’s a great way to connect with people, a common bond that brings friends together, and it’s something I can talk about with my dad.
Unless the sport of football can figure out a way to not permanently damage the people who play the game, the sport is doomed. Thankfully for football fans, I may have figured out a few solutions.
Stop Playing The Game
I guess the simplest solution would be to just stop playing this game that is clearly not meant to be played by human beings.
It seems easy when you think about it. The human body is relatively fragile in the face of consistent blunt force trauma and head-on collisions. Probably would just make the most sense to stop doing the damaging thing.
I mean, when you think about it, football is a pretty grisly sight all around. It’s a bunch of ding-dongs and hee-haws getting drunk, eating the flesh of dead animals, and cheering on the degradation of young college graduate’s brains.
That’s not even taking into consideration that the NFL is mostly white owners and executives of absurd feudal wealth lording over men of color, or that most players drafted come from Southern college football institutions fueling a system wherein athletics are often the only viable path to a post-secondary education for the rural poor but then classroom achievements are de-emphasized in favor of football accomplishments to the point where the school setting may as well be a joke. Then when you think about how those owners got so wealthy and why those players come from such poor backgrounds, well, the reflection of society only gets that much grimmer.
But we are not barbaric people. We’re in control. So we can just stop doing this harmful behavior whenever we want to. Right?
How much do we even need football? Sure, it’s the most exciting of all the sports. But there are other games we could obsess over. We wouldn’t even need to give up “football” per se, we’d just need to try to care about soccer. I know this doesn’t sound realistic.
The NFL Is Now Played Exclusively On Madden
Football has always been the most technologically complicated sport, it’s only natural that it’s next evolution is into… VIIIIRTUALLLL REAALLLLLITY.
Let’s just have eSports become a real thing and make Madden NFL the actual NFL. You might think watching people sit around playing video games isn’t as exciting but here’s the twist: the game is played by the FOX NFL Robots.
Who’s ready for some football now, huh? Huh?!?
Professional Flag Football
You’re right. Quitting football altogether over a little thing like permanent brain damage seems a little reactionary.
We don’t watch the games for the brutal hits, we watch it for the skill and the suspense. That’s why I don’t think anyone will mind if the NFL becomes a flag football league. If no flags are around, two-hand-tap is also acceptable.
There wouldn’t be a need for helmets or heavy padding. We could see all the players laughing and joking as they toss the ol’ pigskin around and do lots of creative touchdown dances.
Certainly this would be more of a focus on the passing game but that’s already where football has been heading for a number of years, anyway.
Defense wouldn’t be forgotten. Teams would still get 1 free blitz per drive to sack the quarterback, and on non-blitz plays, they count to 5 Mississippi before rushing the QB.
The game would certainly be less gritty and tough, but we could still pretend it’s gritty and tough if you really want to. We’ll still have Dan Dierdorf in the booth going on about smash mouth football, it’s just instead of people’s mouths actually being smashed, it’s because both teams are taking a quick time-out to dance to the song “All Star” by Smash Mouth. For the TV audience, they get a commercial for the Ford F-150 narrated by Denis Leary.
Better Helmets + Worse Research
Maybe you’re right. Those solutions are too extreme. Well, how about this?
Right now the poindexters are playing for the wrong team. The only thing the NFL needs to do to lower concussions is improve the helmet technology and, at the same time, weaken concussion research.
All these pesky dweebs are focused on finding evidence of CTE when what they should be doing is figuring out ways to make helmets made entirely out of pillows or something better than that, I don’t know. I’m an idea guy, not some dork scientist.
Point is these nerds need to start being useful and helping the NFL instead of trying to kill it just because their dads didn’t want to play “science facts” or whatever when the game was on.
Lalalala I Can’t Hear You Over All This Money Lalalala
Honestly who cares about whatever stupid point this article is making. We should just listen to the NFL’s lawyers about this. They would know, wouldn’t they? Why would they lie? Especially considering how generous they are with all this money they’re giving me as a gift and all I need to do is stop with all this nonsense CTE talk.
CTE is a myth like global warming. Football is the future or whatever it doesn’t matter. I JUST GOT PAAAAAIIIIIID!! Cha-Ching, baby!
Grant Pardee is a comedian and can be followed on Twitter.