In a Huffington Post article two years ago, I managed to express the true depth of my love for the sport of football—and maybe yours, too—before concluding, "We really should knock it off with tackle football. We should stop playing it, and we should stop watching it, and we should stop fantasizing about it and sentimentalizing about it. We should get over it."
After it came out, I got a call from a high school football coach friend, who told me he had done his own frantic research in the face of data about head-trama, and had come to the conclusion that pro football players play far, far longer than the hundreds of high school players he coaches.
He agreed that pro football is a problem. But he said that if I was advocating banning football altogether, he what did I propose he do with those 80 kids on his practice field every afternoon. Kids with limited options in life (and in afternoons). Kids who might be doing much less productive and educational things if football was taken away from them by well-meaning Huffington Post columnists. When I suggested "baseball," we both laughed. He knew and I knew that for most kids, football is just infinitely more fun and cool. And we both agreed that like boxing, and the military—when football doesn't kill you, it really does make you stronger.
It was a classic Greater Good Theory. It did not shut me up, exactly. But it simmered me down.
I wonder if, with these latest statistics about head trauma and dead football players, we'll go back to high dudgeon. I dunno. As I wrote two years ago, with football players, coaches and fans alike: "It’s not that simple. And if you cut open our brains, you would see why."
Bonus Video! Watch me, playing on a women's professional football team!