Sunday, January 27, 2013

Frank Deford Is Wrong

Wait, another football post, you ask?  Well, yes, but very quickly, and for the single purpose of putting a finer point on what the NFL really fears in the coming legal crisis it faces regarding brain-deadening and life-threatening concussions.

The NFL fears becoming a third-tier backwater, a disreputable sporting operation on a par with modern day prize fighting.  That is what is at stake in these court room battles, not simply the dollar value, staggering though it will be - case by case or in total - to ordinary mortals.

These billionaires can afford the tab, and, indeed, ultimately fob-off the burden on future TV and fan rip-off revenue sources, as long as the game itself is not permanently damaged.  But that is what is going to happen.

Even though I recently heard Frank Deford, the best sports writer still working, broadcast a commentary on NPR which staked-out a contrary position, I'm convinced that the NFL is attempting to play a desperate game of catch-up, with no time left on the clock. 

Science is a tough customer, tougher even than 300 lb. to nearly 400 lb. behemoths crashing into one another at near Olympic sprinter speed.  Science is also patient.  As has been said, facts are stubborn things.  Even though popular opinion and/or fashion wishes to deny reality, eventually sunlight finds a way to crash through with greater force than the heaviest hitter in football.  Game over. 

Fact based testimony, under oath, in these cases will hold out in bold relief the devastating brain damage inflicted not only on the pro level, but even in biddy-ball.  Soon enough, parents will do the right thing.  Popular opinion will turn away in revulsion, and there will be no overtime.

The arc of change will not only track that of the shunning of tobacco, it will be speed-of-light faster.

But do not despair.  Things change. Do not merely get over it, embrace it.  There are alternatives.  Surely everyone remembers "Play Ball!"


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