Dr. Helen

The War on Football

Sadly, I saw that a former Amazon CFO, Joy Covey, died in a bike crash on Wednesday:

She died Wednesday after colliding with a minivan while riding her bicycle downhill on Skyline Blvd. near Portola Valley, Calif., according to Art Montiel, a public information officer at the California Highway Patrol in Redwood City. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

After this tragedy, are people calling out to ban bikes? Apparently, 677 people were killed on bikes in 2011 and many more were injured. The article I linked mentions that the health benefits of biking offset some of the risks. Why is it okay to get hurt or injured on a bike but when it comes to a sport like football that is safer than bicycling, the PC community is up in arms and wants to ban it? That is one of the questions that Daniel Flynn tackles in his new book The War on Football: Saving America’s Game. From Amazon:

From concussion doctors pushing “science” that benefits their hidden business interests to lawyers clamoring for billion-dollar settlements in scam litigation, America’s game has become so big that everybody wants a cut. And those chasing the dollars show themselves more than willing to trash a great sport in hot pursuit of a buck.

Everything they say about football is wrong. Football players don’t commit suicide at elevated levels, die younger than their peers, or suffer disproportionately from heart disease. In fact, professional players live longer, healthier lives than American men in general.

More than that, football is America’s most popular sport. It brings us together. It is, and has been, a rite of passage for millions of American boys.

But fear over concussions and other injuries could put football on ice. School districts are already considering doing away with football as too dangerous. Parents who used to see football as character-building now worry that it may be mind-destroying. Even the president has jumped on the pile by fretting that he might prevent a son from playing if he had one.

But as author Daniel J. Flynn reports, football is actually safer than skateboarding, bicycling, or skiing. And in a nation facing an obesity crisis, a little extra running, jumping, and tackling could do us all good.

Flynn has an interesting chapter (very much to me, at least!) called “The Abolition of Boys,” in which he talks about how few rites of passage boys have and how football is one fairly safe way to give boys who want or need that an outlet. He gets that all boys are not “rough and tumble” but that some are. About the latter group, he says: “Life is more interesting when people aspire to be themselves and not an archetype. But if we celebrate youngsters who defy gender norms, can’t we tolerate the ones to conform to them? … [S]ome boys need sunshine on their faces, mud on their clothes, and the exhilaration of violent collision like the rest of us need oxygen.”

It is not about safety because if it were, bikes would be history along with skateboards. As the powers that be strive to erase all forms of overt masculinity from the culture, I wonder what will happen to those boys and men who need sports and other forms of recreation like football. What outlets will they find? Will those be crushed too?  So a cyclist should be able to follow his or her desire to ride because the sport is PC and therefore acceptable, but a football player should not because his sport is unacceptable because it is as American as apple pie instead of as crunchy as an organic food truck?

I say both are important. What do you say?