History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Can we ever watch football the same again?

(Image of Asher Allen from "Pro Sports Addicts")
Have you ever known someone with a slight limp who said it was "an old football injury?" A badge of machismo, right? Well, maybe in a former time.
We have seen the "nerds" smash their detractors. Now maybe it's time for the "sissies" to win out. The sissies were the boys who never saw any great virtue in football. They might have chosen tennis, golf or swimming.
The University of Minnesota-Morris football players of the 1970s seemed to want to project machismo. That has dissipated since. Sure, the Cougars went through some humbling years in terms of won-lost, but I think some cultural factors were slowly at work too. Today I think the football athletes blend in much better with the student body than in that earlier time.
How preferable it is. But now the sport of football in its very essence is being questioned. The revelations about health hazards have been bursting forth as if a veritable storm.
A lawsuit certainly helps. A couple thousand NFL players feel they were done wrong by the system. The money-greased system, they would argue, wanted to conceal the horrible health repercussions of football. It would be bad for business. Our legal system can remedy that by peeling below the surface. Even if the suit itself falls short of its goals, we're learning a great deal.
There is an unmistakable cloud hanging over football now. Following the Vikings is getting a new wrinkle. We used to be able to estimate length of career based on age and injury avoidance. We can no longer count on these players playing out "normal" careers. Many are going to start exiting as a precaution.
It's not like they're literally forced from the game by injury. Theoretically a lot of these guys could keep playing several years longer. But they are scared.
It seems unconscionable that fans sit in the comfort of their living rooms watching these guys tear into each other like missiles. The players are bigger and faster than they used to be. Our knowledge of the game's risks has progressed far.
Vikings fans were expecting Asher Allen to be back in the fold for the new season. He seems a mere lad, age 24, and he seemed set for his fourth NFL season. We in Minnesota are moving mountains to get a new stadium built. But can we keep the players engaged? Or is football headed the way of heavyweight boxing, a sport that began to sicken people because of its barbarity?
You might laugh, thinking football is nowhere near to reaching that point. It's not your (the fan's) brain that's at risk, it's the health of people like Asher Allen, who has decided he's not going to play anymore. The 24-year-old Allen has "retired." He was a third round draft pick out of Georgia in 2009. He started eleven games in 2010, and he has four career interceptions. But he has had two concussions, one last season.
We have heard about former Vikings like Fred McNeill having problems. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta visited McNeill to do a story. I feel guilty having been entertained by what McNeill had to do on a football field. Can you really live with yourself watching this? Former players have taken their own lives (e.g. Dave Duerson).
Maybe you're thinking "Oh, but those are pro players who have played years and years."
So you think they're more at risk? The adolescent brain is especially tender. The consequences of all those collisions can be even worse for them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates nearly two million brain injuries are experienced by teenage players every year. These young men aren't even being paid.
Repeated intense head contact leads to headaches, dizziness and sleeping issues.
Machismo? I think we're re-shaping our impressions of what this game does. How about coming home after school and going on social media instead? Or just studying? Or maybe doing nothing?
One of the traits of being young is to think you're invulnerable. Young people can take up smoking without thinking much of the consequences. Boys might decide they want to keep playing football regardless of the Asher Allens of the world.
One remedy might be legal action. It so often comes down to this. Maybe those legions of former NFL players will win their lawsuit. Lawyers, salivating, will then turn their attention elsewhere. Parents who think they weren't warned adequately about the dangers of football might decide to sue school districts.
It's certainly worth a shot. It's certainly not frivolous. The truth always bubbles to the surface. The truth about the health consequences of football isn't going to be suppressed.
Football's tragic flaw is that it inflicts concussions on its players with devastating frequency. Brent Waddell suggested at breakfast recently that it seems elementary: A sport that requires you to wear a helmet? Connecting the dots would seem elementary, Brent suggested.
So the question "becomes" (as the late William F. Buckley would say): Can football be modified to address the health issues?
Football's injury issues might seem serious enough even if you disregard head contact. We read all the time of torn ACLs, MCLs and whatever else. It's a sport that seems to tear apart your body. Think again of those men who explain a limp by tying it to having played football.
A Morris native who coached in this part of the state (not in Stevens County, but close) once told me he had to quit playing because "I hit my head." Is this a risk he should have been exposed to? Students think football is an acceptable pastime because schools offer it. It has been passed down through generations.
But times change. We are realizing this with tech-fueled transformations that are literally throwing countless people out of work. I might be one of them. Change is such the norm, we have to re-think all our past notions.
As a kid, I remember getting on the school bus along Northridge Drive and discussing with peers the upcoming Clay-Liston fight. Man, that was big. We're talking about Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston. Clay later became Muhammad Ali. Clay won and was on the ladder for more fame beyond anyone's wildest imagination, aided by Howard Cosell.
When was the last time we gathered around the water cooler to discuss an upcoming heavyweight fight? We cringed when we began to notice Ali's deterioration to where he's a near-vegetable. I suppose Mike Tyson biting off an opponent's ear didn't help either.
But look at all these human missiles - football players - flying into each other on the gridiron. We watch from the comfort of our sofas and sip sodas. We watch beer commercials as if beer and football are somehow connected, which in a sense they are, as emblems of a culture fading into obsolescence. Much of it is gone already.
But we are in denial. In mid-August we'll start following the Vikings again. But I think more and more, a tinge of guilt will enter our minds. We'll wonder if we can really find better things to do on Sunday afternoons. And if the game is questionable for the pros, what of the adolescents and their more tender brains? Shall we close the curtain on Big Cat Stadium?
I'll never feel the same at a football game. Could the end come quickly? Don't rule it out.
Asher Allen is way ahead of us. Hats off, dude.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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