“I’m a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son…”

Something tells me that Mark Emmert doesn’t have time for the shit President Obama is laying down in this interview:

… if I had a son, I’d have to think long and hard before I let him play football. And I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence. In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won’t have to examine our consciences quite as much.

I tend to be more worried about college players than NFL players in the sense that the NFL players have a union, they’re grown men, they can make some of these decisions on their own, and most of them are well-compensated for the violence they do to their bodies. You read some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth and then have nothing to fall back on. That’s something that I’d like to see the NCAA think about.  [Emphasis added.]

And that’s probably a mistake.  You may disagree with the man’s politics, but it’s hard to deny that Obama’s good at reading public sentiment.  This concussion thing is moving fast – or at least faster than people like Emmert are. You ignore subtle warnings like that at your own risk.  And the risk the NCAA and the colleges run is that they may be one big tragedy away (like, say, a death on the field) from having control of player safety taken away from them.

Unfortunately, if there’s one thing the NCAA isn’t good at, it’s being proactive.

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44 Comments

Filed under Political Wankery, The Body Is A Temple, The NCAA

44 responses to ““I’m a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son…”

  1. What fresh hell is this?

    It’s hard to argue the new findings about CTE, and it would be really hard to ignore if you’re a parent, no matter how much you love the game.

    Happily, the pro game just got a little safer. Shower hygiene has improved in Big D under the tutelage of SOD.

  2. Scorpio Jones, III

    Is the NCAA actually good at anything that does not involve grabbing money? I think, Senator, this issue (football safety) is already out of the hands of the NCAA and probably the colleges. When the public at large is talking about it, Congress won’t be far behind…which should be interesting theater if nothing else.

    I have a lot of friends who spent many more years in the arena than did I. None of them, not a one, are better off physically than I am.

    NASCAR is safer.

  3. G Marmalarde

    So go watch NASCAR

  4. Dante

    My daughter is a cheerleader so my son goes to a lot of football games. While I’m not sure I’d forbid him from playing, I sure am glad he shows no interest in it.

  5. SouthGaDawg

    It is documented that soccer has more significant injuries than football. A child pitching in a baseball game could get hit in the head or chest at any give at bat. There are injury issues with all sports. The technology with football equipment has evolved. Coaches are trained much better than in the past. The GHSA has put into place rules about practice heat and now is putting in rules about concussions. I’m usually not on a “high horse” but I am today. I’m tired of football getting the blame for everything. So does Obama blame Bush and football now for the country’s woes?

    • What fresh hell is this?

      Please tell me this was comedy.

    • Dawgfan Will

      It is indeed unfortunate that the president doesn’t want to see young men get hurt. What a dick.

      • Are you kidding?

        While I think football players safety needs to be addressed, if you seriously think Obama gives two cents about football players safety you haven’t been paying attention the last four years. This is a man who is literally risking all of our lives by dismantling the world’s best health care system. If he is talking about it, it is because it plays to popular political demographics, nothing more, nothing less.

        • Derek

          Have you ever wondered why every western democracy save ours has a single-payer system (Medicare for all) and despite the claims that they are horrible in every way no political candidates win on a platform of replacing it with a private insurance based system? It seems to me that if the Heath care systems in Canada, the uk, France, Sweden, Germany etc… sucked then somebody would get more that 50% of the votes in those countries on a platform to rid themselves of it.

          • rocksalt

            Canada: http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0228/p07s02-woam.html

            Pull quote: “Our healthcare system is on life support and it is fading fast,” said British Columbia premier Gordon Campbell recently.

            Sorry Senator, but President Obama is likely better at reading sanskrit than public sentiment. Gay Marriage, Gun Control and Obamacare aren’t exactly winners at the ballot box.

            • Alkaline

              … I don’t know, those issues seem to have done the trick in the past election. Psych 101: The larger the group of people you ask for an opinion, the less it will make sense when (or if, even) they eventually give it to you.

            • Derek

              Thank you for that 11 year old quote. Here’s what Canadians think:
              By an overwhelming margin, Canadians prefer the Canadian health care system to the American one. Overall, 82% said they preferred the Canadian system, fully ten times the number who said the American system is superior (8%)….from a Harris-Decima poll (.pdf), July 2009. .
              The vast majority of Canadians, 91 per cent, felt that Canada’s health care system was better than the United States…CTV, a Canadian television network, Jun. 29 2008, reporting on a survey, conducted by the Strategic Counsel for CTV and The Globe and Mail.

              In November 2004, Canadians voted Tommy Douglas, Canada’s ‘father of Medicare'”) the Greatest Canadian of all time following a nationwide contest.”… CBC
              People in Canada and Great Britain are significantly more satisfied with availability of affordable healthcare than their American counterparts …Gallup Poll, March, 2003

            • Right. That’s how a black, liberal senator from Illinois has won two straight national elections with more than 50% of the vote each time.

              • rocksalt

                “D’oh” on the old quote. @ The Senator – Really? I’d be interested to see that montage of national ads in 2012 that the Obama campaign ran on his signature achievement. And you couldn’t find an honest newsman (on either side of the ideological perspective) that would tell you with a straight face that his “evolution” on gay marriage was nothing more than a money grab. The 2008 election was won on an end to partisan politics, the kind which Mr. “Punish your enemies” and “get in their faces” hasn’t exactly abolished. The 2012 election was won on low turnout for the other guy – and a campaign strategy that was anything but a celebration of the last four years. I’ll disavow my poor quotation on the Canadian healthcare system – but I stand firm on my statement that the guy in the White House right now wouldn’t know public sentiment if it swam up and bit him the ass. I wonder if your position on the last guy that was elected President twice in a row is that “like him or not, he was good at reading public sentiment”.

            • Doug

              “Changing Attitudes on Gay Marriage”: http://features.pewforum.org/same-sex-marriage-attitudes/

              “Why Republicans defy public opinion in gun-control fight”: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/DC-Decoder/Decoder-Wire/2013/0120/Why-Republicans-defy-public-opinion-in-gun-control-fight-video

              “Poll: ‘Obamacare’ Gains Support, Public Opinion Now Split”: http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/poll-obamacare-gains-support-public-opinion-now-split

              Believe what you want about Obama — I personally believe he’s neither a megalomaniacal superhero nor a transformative statesman — but people who underestimate his ability to read public opinion have done so at their own peril for going on five years now.

            • Dubyadee

              Lt. Hauk standing in for the GOP the last two elections: “Sir, you heard from the men who don’t like my humor, but what about the silent masses who do? And as far as polkas, they are a much-maligned musical taste.”

        • Dawgfan Will

          So what? Who cares what his motives are? If he was asked a question about the subject, what was he supposed to say? I don’t agree with all of the guy’s policies, but I have no patience for people who criticize EVERY single word that comes out of his mouth.

  6. The other Doug

    What would happen if a company stuck their heads in the sand while evidence mounted that they were putting their employees at risk?

    • The Lone Stranger

      You mean like coal mines? They generally slump along greasing the palms of local politicos before a mine wall falls in knocking off 9 or 10 guys. Then they trot out their battery of lawyers to argue that the labor is an inherently doomstruck affair and nothing that happens that far underground can be predicted. For whatever that’s worth.

  7. Coach Bobby Finstock

    “They’re grown men, they can make some of these decisions on my own.”

  8. Cojones

    It certainly sounds as if the rules will change for a safer approach to playing the game. One of the reasons we like and prefer CFB is because the lead will come from the college level to make it safer. These players will go to the NFL and influence the pro rules as well. I would prefer that the rules changes begin at the HS and college level.

    Most fans have good feelings toward our college player’s safety because the individuals are followed closely during the game and we wince when one of ours takes a big hit. We instantly begin to worry and think of them as individuals whereas before they were an anonymous member of a team and we didn’t have to think of them separately. Anonymity was great for fans in the Coliseum of Rome and other cities and there was no sensitivity toward an individual’s death (ignorance makes life cheaper).

    We don’t want any of our player’s lives cheapened because we want blood, especially in rivalries. CFB is not a death or combat approaching death sort of sport. That sentiment has been proven through the years with the development of the modern helmet, pads and preventive support equipment; i.e., supportive braces for body parts. This equipment has arisen due to a feeling for individual player safety; a feeling that’s been around for many years.

    I like President Obama’s concern and it is not a popular political venue of which he speaks. He has shown this same sensitivity for individuals during his entire tenure and one instance this Veteran is proud of is his early morning trips to nearby Dover AFB to personally honor and give respect to those who have given all for our country while under his command.

  9. Slaw Dawg

    If college is risker than the pros, high school is riskier yet, by far. This was brought home to me personally this year when my son–who plays full time both sides of the ball as OT and ILB–took a very nasty helmet to helmet shot that left him in writhing pain. Not only did the officials not call it, but the opposing coach was loudly praising his player that delivered the shot. And so they did it to another kid a few plays later, again not called. My wife and I–who otherwise never yell catcalls at officials–let the officials know how lousy they were and registered complaints across the board (so did my son’s coaches), but nothing’s likely to change until some kid is killed. My son loves this sport and gives it his all, but now I’m wondering if we’ve allowed him to get involved in something that may leave him permanently damaged.

    Bottom line: it’s appropriate for the President of the United States, whoever he/she is, to help magnify this issue. Because it needs serious attention.

  10. 69Dawg

    When we send techs into a radioactive environment we give them badges to register the amount of radiation they have been exposed to. Why not come up with sensors that are in the helmets that show on the exterior of the helmet the cummulative effects of blows to the head? When a player is hit hard or when the OL or DL comes off of the field a trainer checks the numbers and if they are over the risk level the player is not allowed back in the game.

    • Russ

      That’s a good idea Seriously, you should patent that idea.

      • Alkaline

        Agree. Someone is going to do that and sell it to the NFL–you might as well be able to sue them when they do!

    • Debby Balcer

      +1 I am glad I only have daughters because it is a scary issue. I find it interesting though that no one is talking about banning boxing in which the whole sport is about blows to the head. I do think a player needs to be penalized for head to head hits. I hope they find ways to keep players safe but all sports contain risk and even risk of death.

      • Boxing is generally done by lower class and foreign guys where they are willing to risk being punch drunk later in life in order to provide for their families. If you’re a Mexican kid in Sinaloa it probably seems like a better life to box than to get gunned down in the streets as part of a drug gang. Also boxers generally don’t fight more than a few times a year giving them more recovery time. By using knees and much smaller gloves the UFC is probably a lot more dangerous.

    • There’s a study like that going on right now in Winston-Salem, NC, and I believe at Virginia Tech. http://www.journalnow.com/news/local/article_a308ce18-f73b-5f6e-9e7c-3ae28dc17da1.html

  11. john

    I agree, except for the “shit” part. This is serious. I love football & have 2 sons. I steered them towards basesball & soccer for that Verry reason.

  12. Always Someone Else's Fault

    Did you see the NE player last week on the ground? Random muscle spasms after he hit the ground. Brain scrambled, then rebooting like a PC. My kid did.

    My son’s middle school PE teachers are all over him to play football next year (6th graders ineligible in NC). He lives for sports and can name every starting QB in the SEC. And he’s seriously wondering whether he plays or not, all on his own. I’ve told him it’s his decision, but I’ve given him a couple of books to read first, and I’ve shown him some Youtube videos of scenes like the ones SD describes.

    When I was his age, I would have killed to have PE teachers pulling me out of kickball to do passing drills, and it would never have occurred to me to even think about saying no.

    It’s a huge change, and I do wonder where it’s all headed.

    • Cojones

      As usual, thoughtful Dawgs address the issue and from differing and honest angles. Not a whole lot of posturing going on when parents begin to look at the consequences from their child’s welfare point of view. That’s exactly what the President addressed. While none of us want anyone hurt for the sake of us all watching the sport, neither do we wish to speed up the demise of CFB.

      The “helmet registering hits” idea is a good one and it is doable. Load cells have been around for years that will send telemetry remotely from any point receiving a hit and demonstrate the pounds pressure received. All that is required is for engineers to shape a load cell (or cells) such that the area of the skull hit is also highlighted in the signal. Load cells can be shaped already and can register the pressure received such that rockets with full payloads can be measured with accuracy to within tenths of lbs force exerted.

  13. Prediction: Football will be gone, or at a minimum marginalized like boxing, within the next 20 years.

    We damn well better win at least one national title before its all over.

    • The Lone Stranger

      A race for vanishing glory. I like the finality of it and think that such a swashbuckling angle should somewhat mute the lingering sting of expanding playoffs.

    • Darrron Rovelll

      Over the course of the last year, I have come to believe that we are witnessing the peak of football’s popularity and that sport will naturally begin a slow decline. This is not to say that the sport will not remain popular but there are many factors at play that will contribute to the decline. Demographics and population shifts to urban living, technology changes, the inability to grow the participation of the game domestically and internationally will eventually take its toll.

      But player saftety and the head injury issue is the most pressing factor that can steepen the decline for several reasons. First, if former NFL players will a judgment it could cripple the league financially plus result in higher operational costs (salaries, insurances, equipment, etc.) in the future. Plus if the league opts to make wholesale rules changes which fundamentally alter the game, will it change the entertainment value and how does that affect media revenue.

      Second, if NFL has to pay former players, imagine the lawsuits that will be filed on the behalf of former collegiate and high school players. If institutions on that level also are required to make payments to former players that will probably destroy the game on the school level as only the wealthy institutions will opt to pay the higher operational costs and that is if insurance companies are willing to issue liability coverage at all. Even if the school drives significant revenue from football is the ROI enough to support the increase expenses?

      Football is practically the only sport that relies on the school system to transition and develop talent through teenage years to the upper echelons of competition. Even though high schools offer baseball, basketball, tennis, golf , etc., those sports have long-established national/international club sport organizations that develop talent and are important in the decision-making choosing a path to the next level.

      If colleges cannot rely on high school football to develop talent, where do they find it?

      There might still be time for football to develop an “AAU” type football system, but is the model really sustainable for 11 on 11 tackle football? Can they attract the talent needed? When do you compete?

      If large numbers of high schools, begin to drop football, does the athlete opt to move to continue to compete in football or do they simply choose another sport?

      Even if everything goes right for football and the choose the right path for player safety and the talent development method does not change, the other factors mentioned above may still cause football to decline.

      History is not on their side anyway … at the turn of the 20th century the most popular sports in this country were horse racing, boxing and baseball. By the 1950’s, horse racing and boxing were in decline while baseball had become “America’s Pastime.” Yet even then football was not considered one of the top 3 spectator sports.

      By mid-century, college football had soared in popularity but the NFL was still a marginal sport. Advances in broadcast technology, the marketing brilliance of Pete Rozelle, the shift in the American population out of rural and urban populations to suburban populations were all factors into the growth of football and the NFL. But football really did not become the solid #1 until end of last century with some of the factors being related to the mis-steps made by those in control of baseball and basketball.

      Heck even today, one of the reasons football seems like such a strong #1 is that baseball and basketball are in decline domestically even though the experience strong growth internationally. My prediction is that it will be football inability to rapidly grow the game internationally when compared to soccer, basketball and baseball that will hurt football the most (aside from the injury issue.)

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