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Medium Read: “Offensive Play” by Malcolm Gladwell

October 18, 2009

I’ve added Malcolm Gladwell’s recent New Yorker article “Offensive Play” to my Medium Reads list. A taste of the main point:

A football player’s real issue isn’t simply with repetitive concussive trauma. It is, as the concussion specialist Robert Cantu argues, with repetitive subconcussive trauma. It’s not just the handful of big hits that matter. It’s lots of little hits, too.

His comparison of football to dogfighting forgets that football players make a choice to play football while dogfighting dogs are forced to fight and is therefore ultimately dubious. His conclusion that debilitating brain trauma is likely inherent to football is both frightening and saddening. I love the game but, having experienced multiple concussions and extended problems resulting from them, I believe the various governing bodies of the sport are far delayed in coming to terms with this significant issue. Especially insidious is the tough-guy culture that downplays the danger of concussions and encourages players to ignore the warning signs given by their bodies and keep on playing. If the NFL really wants to take care of its players, it would institute considerable fines for any player, coach or staff member who does anything to perpetuate that culture.

Maybe a return to leather helmets really is the way to go.

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