Football is so ingrained in the fiber of our culture it seems there's no scandal large enough to knock it off its battered, archaic pedestal. Nothing, not even accusations of racism, ritualistic hazing, or domestic abuse seems to be able to dampen the popularity of the game. With so many negatives currently surrounding the sport, it's easy to forget one other pesky downer ... there's also a good chance playing football will leave you brain damaged.
There wouldn't be a stock photo for it if that wasn't true.
Every week, fans of the pro game suffer through an endless parade of mind-numbingly inane commercials and tedious punditry in heady anticipation of the holy grail of the sport ... the hard hit. There's nothing like watching oversized, testosterone-addled men willfully hurl themselves at each other to get the blood of the American sports fan pumping. But all this bloodlust comes with a price. And that price is extracted in pounds of fleshy gray matter. Last year the NFL was forced to pay out at least $765 million to thousands of players who suffered irrevocable injuries as a result of playing the game. The settlement came after the NFL was found negligent for failing to adequately warn players about the inherent risks associated with running full-speed into each other.
A real shame considering effective PSAs are so easy to make.
If these adults had a hard time making an informed decision about their safety, how are children going to fare? And the problem gets exponentially worse when you look at participation levels. The NFL has fewer than 2,000 athletes. By a wide margin, the largest group of football players/potential brain-damage victims are people too young to catch an R-rated movie without being accompanied by a grown-up. Youth football participants number in the millions, with over 1 million high-schoolers and another 3 million ranging in age starting as young as 7.
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Do parents even exist anymore?