Men are sometimes like Neanderthals. Grunt. Snort. "Me. Play. Football."
This is why we need moms. To save us from ourselves.
In this modern day, let's face the truth and admit that it makes absolutely no sense to play football. The downside is extremely high of suffering a very serious injury, and the paltry upside is not even close to making it worth the risk.
The ongoing crisis in the National Football League (NFL) over concussions and the brain damage that can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has helped to bring this issue to the fore. But c'mon, we all know that football is hazardous. It's obvious. We don't need reams of scientific proof to know that hitting ourselves over the head with a hammer is a bad idea.
The risk of playing football is not limited to only CTE. Although, let's be clear, CTE is pretty bad, especially when it results in suicide. Can't get much worse than that. But the analysis is not that if only a small percentage of players develop CTE then it is perfectly fine to play football. Um, no, not quite.
Football involves innumerable collisions. It's not just the big hits that are the problem, but it's all the hits. With every single collision, large and small, the brain is internally bashed up against the inside of the skull. It happens every time players contact each other, and every time players fall to the ground. On every single play, most if not all of the players on the field experience these large and small collisions. Over and over again. Bashing the delicate brain. Every play. Every game. Every practice. Week after week. Month after month. Year after year. This is hardly healthy. In fact, there is another word for it: Plain old stupid.
The evidence is mounting that the accumulation of all these little impacts on the brain can result in significant cognitive impairment that is permanent, including years later in life. Depression, memory loss, dementia, cognitive dysfunction, learning disabilities, emotional disorders, behavioral disorders, aggression, post-concussion syndrome, second-impact syndrome, Alzheimer's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease, mood changes, personality changes, neurological disorders, neurodegenerative diseases and death. Doesn't sound so great.
Do we really need to wait around for definitive scientific studies to tell us just how bad it is to bash our brains? And for what benefit? There is very little upside to playing football, so the decision seems quite clear that it is simply not worth taking the risk.
It's not just brain injuries, either. Playing football results in all sorts of other kinds of injuries all over the body. Knees, shoulders, ankles, hips, ruptured internal organs, the back, the spine, the neck. Many of these injuries plague people for the rest of their lives. We all know people who cannot participate with the rest of us, or with their own children, in various activities all due to that old football injury from high school. It's hardly worth it.
Our bodies are our temples. And our brains are our sacred altars. Modern brain science is the next frontier and it is continually revealing the astonishing intricacies of our brains. They form the essence of who we are. Our brains are responsible for everything we experience as human beings. What we see, what we smell, what we taste, our physical coordination, our balance, our feelings, whether we are happy or sad, all of our emotions, our fears, our pleasures, our joys, who we love, our intelligence, and every single decision that we make. It is all determined in our magnificent little brains.
Our bodies and brains are our wondrous special gifts. But they are extremely delicate. We must protect them, nurture them, and cherish them. And in return they enable us to enjoy the richness of our adult lives for many years.
Why in the world would we put all of this at risk by playing football? It simply makes no sense. The fact that our society so glorifies football and thereby encourages its citizens to engage in this terribly harmful activity is merely a remnant left over from our past before we fully appreciated the importance of cherishing our bodies and our brains.
And there is no such thing as making football safe. Let's face it. The whole notion is absurd, at best. At worst, it is a device shrewdly being used by those who profit from football to attempt to instill a false sense of safety. But it is ridiculous. Football is not safe.
There is no helmet in the world that can make football safe. There is no training on how to be slammed to the ground that can make football safe. There is no "protocol" that can make football safe by removing players from the game when they are so far off in outer space from brain impacts that they cannot recall the current month, day, or opposing team.
There is a reason that the commissioner of the NFL earns more than $40 million per year. His job is to create the impression that football is awesome.
But football is obviously not safe. Forceful collisions against other people and against the ground are not healthy. Plain and simple.
The biggest challenge to ending football as we know it is not based upon simply presenting the facts. It is also not the massive financial juggernauts behind the sport, although they will indeed be formidable. The NFL does not care about our children or even its own players when it comes to the greed of protecting its own precious profits. This was on full display in the NFL's concerted efforts for decades to reportedly cover-up the extent of brain damage caused by playing football.
The biggest challenge is the culture in our society. Many people are rabid football fans for reasons that they themselves do not even understand, and they will not be able to imagine a world without football no matter the facts under any circumstances. They will certainly rage against any change.
Yet this football culture of ours is barbaric. Watching a football game is like going to the Roman coliseum to watch the public spectacle of gladiators fighting it out to the death. Future generations will look back at us one day and marvel at how in such a modern age we remained so shockingly primitive in this respect. Our football culture is cruel perhaps mostly to young boys by instilling in them the message that the way to be valued in this society is to play football. This, however, turns out to be a very bad deal for them. But they do not realize this until it is far too late.
With a little effort, however, the culture can be changed. Football players should not be glorified as heroes and the cool kids, but instead, they should be regarded as idiots. After all, it is a profoundly stupid decision to play football.
And football players shouldn't get the girl. Girls should realize that guys who play football are prone to making very bad life decisions, and also that these guys may well develop mental and physical impairments as adults and not make for very good life companions.
But most of all, we need legislation. We need to counteract the massive machine that exists throughout our society that encourages children to enter organized football. We would spare our young boys and their families from agonizing over the decision of whether to play football. But mainly, we would save millions of young boys from making bad decisions that they would later regret.
We need legislation that would prevent public funds from flowing to any school that maintains a football program. This would apply to all schools, including elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and, yes, colleges. No federal, state, or local funding of any kind.
This would provide the little boost that schools clearly need to encourage them to make the right decision of protecting the health and safety of our children.
This need not end football entirely. Only tackle or contact football would be restricted. So schools would be free to modify their football programs to create non-contact football games and continue to receive their public funding. One option, for example, would be to adopt flag football where instead of tackling the ball-carrier, defenders would pull off a little flag attached to the ball-carrier by Velcro. And all blocking would be conducted with outstretched arms and open palms.
No tackling. No hitting. No brain damage.
Without a feeder system in the schools, the NFL would likely be forced to also give up tackle football and convert to a non-contact alternative like flag football.
All the magnificence of the game would be preserved. We would still delight in the spectacular passes, the soaring mid-air catches, and the artful dashes. Just without the unnecessary violence and the grievous injuries.
Of course, this proposal would encounter an enormous uproar of opposition. The crowd hungers for the violent hits in the NFL, regardless of the fact that the heavy consequence of this is to inflict serious injuries upon our youth in middle schools, high schools, and colleges all across the nation. Pretty amazing.
So in order for this initiative to have any chance whatsoever at success, we need to bring in the political big guns: Moms.
Could you imagine if moms united and actually brought about the end of tackle football in America? Whoa! That would be huge! It would be the greatest achievement in modern-day history! It would be featured in every text book until the end of time!
And moms could really do it, too. They could form a group called Mothers Against Head-Banging. The MAHB Squad. They could make this an issue in the 2016 presidential election, and force every presidential candidate to take a position on the issue. Moms could also form state and local chapters around the country and make it an issue in every single election from state governors, to town mayors, to school board officials.
If the campaign became rocky, and if desperate times called for desperate measures, moms have a secret weapon. They could launch a sex strike. All across this nation, no more nooky for dads until the legislation is adopted.
So it shouldn't take more than, say, a season.
Men and boys will never end tackle football on their own, and thus our culture will continue to force millions of unwitting boys into harm's way to suffer life-long injuries before they are able to understand what they are getting themselves into.
C'mon moms, show us what you can do.