This article about the death of Damon Janes hit home with me, and was accurate in several respects. First, it says that though deaths are rare in football, tremendous damage is done anyway in thousands of cases that involve not death, but just constant concussions. Second was this quote: "We mourn the dead, pray it never happens again, then tune in for the weekend."
Lubbock is just getting wound up on its enormous football culture. It's a good year because of hope brought forward by a new coach, and it looks like we can win a lot of games at the college level. It's at the high school level that I really notice a lot more activity though. It must be everyone in any given high school in the area, that's wrapped up in this stuff. Either as a player, a cheerleader, or a spectator.
I gave up the last part of that quote, tuning in for the weekend, because of the first two parts. I decided that if it's really killing kids, then I just can't keep supporting it. But it's difficult. For one thing, I love people, and all the people, at least in these parts, are wrapped up in it. Second, it's really entertaining to watch; it's made for football. Last weekend, I took my kid to a friend's house, and he had a huge television, tuned into the Alabama-A&M game. A & M had a huge stadium, packed, everyone waving white flags. Both teams were at their best, marching up and down the field with precision and grace. I could hardly help settling in, having something to drink, and watching for a while - but I didn't. Best game of the year, and I passed it up.
College is a little better than high school in the sense that having 20-year-olds smoke cigarettes is slightly better than having 15-year-olds smoke. They get sucked into it before they know any better, and it kills them, and they become hooked on what it does for their heads, etc. I'm also down on meth and war, by the way, as things that kill boys (and girls) even though sometimes they're asking for it. If it's deadly, we should unite as a culture and protect our people from it.
Can it be made "safer"? I'm not sure. Two of the major tragedies are that when the various leg muscles are broken - the knee only bends one way, but people tackle at it from several ways - they don't ever fully recover. ever. But the concussion thing is worse. People are dying at 45 and 50 from having their heads turned to mush, and having lost their ability to control their impulses. Football has really only been popular since the advent of television - they grew up together - so we're talking about a 40 or 50 year experiment in some of these cases. The data is only now coming in. And it isn't pretty.
Don't mean to harp on it. I hate to rain on everyone's parade. And I love the Red Raiders, I don't have any problem with general loyalty to the local school. But I don't want people to keep getting hurt. It's time to get some other sports things happening, and support them.