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Dear Americans: Whatever You Do, Don’t Ban College Football

Why Malcolm Gladwell doesn't know what he's talking about.

Michael van der Galien


May 26, 2012 - 6:00 am
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But that’s their choice. What’s more, their freedom to make that choice is what makes America… America. That’s what that great country of yours stands for: the freedom to pursue your own happiness, regardless of what know-it-alls think.

That’s why I can’t quite wrap my head around articles such as this interview in Slate about college football. The interviewee, Malcolm Gladwell argues that college football should be banned:

The factor that I think will be decisive is the head-injury issue. Colleges are going to get sued, and they will have to decide whether they can afford their legal exposure. That said, the issue ought to be how big-time college sports subverts the academic mission of university education.

He continues:

College football has become indistinguishable from professional football—which is the problem. The only justification for college sports is that they are structured in a way that enhances the social and academic experience of getting an education. A sports program using semiprofessional athletes, and running on a budget of $50-plus million a year does not fit that description.

Not true, Mr. Gladwell: the only needed justification for college sports is that they teach students and athletes to be the best they can be. That’s a skill they can use in every career. Yes, in professional sports of course, but also in business.

Like many others, I share the concern for football players’ health – be they NLF or college players. But to outlaw college football, just because it may not be as healthy as, say, fishing is, well, simply un-American.

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Michael van der Galien is Editor-in-Chief of Dutch news and opinion website De Dagelijkse Standaard, a freelance journalist and columnist, and a regular contributor to several American websites among which PJ Media He can be contacted at
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