I'm posting for 60 days straight, leading up to my early December birthday, and I'm making the time to write on behalf of slain UCC Professor and aspiring novelist, Larry Levine.
I started playing football at the age 12 - pretty late by today's standards - and stopped around my 21st birthday. Nine seasons. I don't think I ever had a concussion. Or at least we didn't call'em that back then as readily as today. But I got my "bell rung" a number of times.
Amidst the circus of another football season - polls, records, stats, miraculous plays, unexpected upsets, fantasy leagues, office pools, and gambling - another high school player has died. His parents have called their son's death a fluke accident while the local daily paper has well reported background on not only Luke Schemm's death but other high school football related deaths around the country this Fall.
American football is violent sport. Period. And while I have personal, deep appreciation for all the sport's positives - discipline, teamwork, endurance, strength, hard work, etc - I think we're at a tipping point. Can't most of those same attributes be derived from flag or touch football? Or another sport all together? How many more young men will die before we pursue a transition from the sport as we know it, to one that's more strategic and less violent?
For more on the Football Industrial Complex, as writer Steve Almond calls it, read his glorious memoir, Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant Manifesto. And for more of my experiences as a fan and player, take a listen to my 12 minute audio essay, A Complicated Relationship: Religion, Sex, and Football:
And maybe, the next time a game's on, you'll head out for a run, hike, or ride instead.