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).

Friday, November 30, 2012

Chorus grows vs. football with Paul Butler of NH

Paul Butler, visionary?
A friend noted recently that a theme I appeared to have over the summer was "anti-football." True, I had made note of troubling health reservations about the sport. It troubled me partly because I have spent a chunk of my life covering it.
"Anti-football" is not the term I'd choose. It's of course negative. I may be "anti-smoking" too but I'm really "pro-good health."
It's sad we have to cast this new negative eye on football. The new truths are inconvenient. But they are in fact truths. George Will sounded an alarm with a column before this season began. He cast doubt on suggestions the sport's problems can be solved as with new helmets.
The NFL is run by money-seeking wizards. No one questions their ability to pull all levers keeping their product sound. Where these wizards lack control is at the youth level. Without that youth "feeder" system, their product is endangered.
Many of us are conflicted. Part of that involves denial. We are troubled by the health reservations and wish we could just continue enjoying the sport on the tube. How could we possibly adjust our lives away from it? Well, we can. We have come to accept that public places will be free of cigarette smoke. We have come to accept that seat belts are required. Believe it or not, one's weekend can be reconfigured so there's enjoyment without football.
But let's return to the subject of the youth feeder system. There have been some early voices on the side of pushing football aside in high school. OK let's use the word "banned" with its drastic connotations. Banned? Those early voices represent people not inclined to feel inhibitions. I cited one in my last summer's writing: Patty Sexton, a school board member in the Philadelphia PA area. She claims she was just being sincere in making a point and wasn't thinking in terms of getting headlines. I believe her. She talked about how public schools shouldn't be sponsoring "gladiators."
Such talk raises eyebrows. In a few years it may not.
Schools aren't exactly bathing in resources these days. They may want to get out of the football business. The very valid health considerations give them firm footing for that. Sexton's name faded within a couple weeks. But a new name has surfaced. This individual says basically the same thing and he has medical credentials. He's a retired physician and current school board member in Dover, New Hampshire. His name: Paul Butler. Like Sexton he spoke from the heart. He wasn't intending to make a splash.
In terms of making a splash, the news media did it for him. He brought up the subject with permission during a portion of a meeting called "school board matters of interest." He spoke for five minutes after which there were no comments. The board moved on to another matter. Clearly no ballyhoo, that is until the next morning, when the newspaper sounded the trumpet. Newspapers aren't dead quite yet.
The newspaper furthered the subject along, via its headline, to where other media began contacting Dr. Butler. Reflecting, the doctor said "I didn't even know a reporter was there (at the meeting)."
Butler became transfixed as he noticed the story "went all over the country." Why would it? The media, whose members always reflect public sensibilities, know concern is afoot about football. The concern is at the micro level. It's being discussed in family living rooms as the decision is weighed for what sports boys should pursue. Football has been a fall standard. People are transfixed watching football even if they've never played it. How do we deal with it? Well, we can, with the proper resolve.
Butler said "there's a lot of unease about the dangers of football for the brain. The brain is who we are."
It's unconscionable to court the risk of lifelong problems as a result of impacts experienced in one's mid-teens, he asserts. He suggests that if local boards of education don't take action, the lawyers will take the reins. He later amended this to suggest "lawyers and insurance companies." That's quite a steamroller. But how can we be skeptical about this?
Columnist Will emphasized how college players have gotten substantially bigger, stronger and faster. High school coaches typically tell the players to lift weights in the off-season. I wrote last summer that this is pointless when your opponents are all doing the same thing. The game is just going to take on more of a look of combat.
Coaches feel excruciating pressure to win. Look at the turnover of coaches in NCAA Division I football. Even if you acknowledge that football can be taught so it's "safer," the incentive to win can never be suppressed.
Some of the sport's defenders say other sports too have risks. Dr. Butler says in response "football is the only game in which we use our head as a battering ram and a spear." Even if instruction at the youth level discourages this, it's pretty futile. Oh my, kids watch the big-time football on Saturday and Sunday and these are their heroes. They feel the invincibility of youth. Exuberance takes over. Immediate rewards are all that matter.
We have learned so much about the dangers of repetitive head trauma over the past ten years. Butler is especially concerned about effects on "the developing brains" of children. Several experts have said tackle football should not be allowed until age 14.
Is Butler some prude or nerd - apologies if the latter term is obsolete - who rejects football without any personal experience? Not at all, as he in fact played football and continues to play hockey at age 68. He in fact calls football a "great game." He cites the work ethic invested in it.
What trumps that, unfortunately, are the head trauma risks which are too great to be disregarded.
As for the benefits of football, which we always hear about in athletic award banquets and the like (motivational type speeches), such benefits can be gained from other activities, according to the good doctor. He cites band, debate club and math club. "Same benefits, no risk," he said.
Boy, you should have seen the Irondale marching band here at Big Cat Stadium this past summer. Why can't Morris Area have a program like that? This isn't your father's/mother's marching band. It reflects tremendous creativity and harnesses tech to empower all instrumentalists.
Butler isn't just sitting idly by while talk continues on the issue of football. His school board term ends in 2013. He wants to give other school leaders more time to ponder the subject and gain information. Undoubtedly there are some emotional hurdles to get past. Ban football? Our jaws might drop.
What's to become of our fall weekends? Well, for one thing, we'd no longer have "football game day" on college campuses on Saturdays - an event inviting various kinds of self-destructive and foolish behavior like alcohol consumption. Campuses could remain as serious bastions of advancement throughout the week. No "Lord of the Flies" timeout.
Sundays? Reportedly the behavior at NFL games is discouraging and getting worse. Can we still nix the new Vikings stadium? I have ranted against that all along. Governor Mark Dayton drank the Kool-Aid. How disappointing for a Democrat. Labor unions went along with it. They could have been just as enthusiastic about an array of other infrastructure projects, which heaven knows we need.
The NFL for the time being seems strong. The youth feeder programs are definitely going to be treading rough water. A decline could happen suddenly.
For the record, Dr. Butler is proposing a ban on high school football. "I'll bring it to a vote (in Dover) by December of 2013," he said (in an NPR interview with Neal Conan).
I have joked with a Morris Area school board member that if she were looking for fame, she could make similar statements. Such statements would come from the heart, though. And in a few years, it will be no joke.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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