If you need on more reason to hate the National Football League for its laser-like focus on money over anything else, add the corporatist-protected league’s fight over CTE. But there is plenty of blame to pass around, including parents and kids who yearn to thrive under the Friday night lights.
PBS Frontline’s most recent report, released today, on the high incidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in former professional football players, points out the longer one plays football and gets his head banged, the higher the odds of developing CTE. It’s not Frontline’s first foray into this issue. It’s “League of Denial” was a groundbreaking work on the way the NFL resisted the truth about brain trauma.
We revere the football hero. We did in New Orleans when I was growing up in the 1960s. The football stars got passes on academic work from the coach who, where I went to school, also taught Latin (yes, Latin!), chemistry and other courses. In the long run, of course, going light on the academics wasn’t helpful — just as it isn’t helpful in colleges and universities where it still happens today.
This problem of glorifying sports isn’t new. It’s as old as the first Olympics. But what is new is the knowledge about the consequences of misplaced priorities. And with this knowledge there is responsibility. For those of us who don’t buy into the football, Friday Night Lights culture, one thing we can do is speak out against it; and, we can reject those school district expenditures for the millions-and-millions dollars stadium for high school football.
It may not be much, but it’s a start.