Thursday, April 18, 2019

Brains, not brawn, for college!

It has long been a secret--not!--that American football is not compatible with having any brains left to do college work.  Now there is yet another story, in the New York Times, this time about this in regard to the University of Colorado's football brain-injured.  This sport is as savage as the Roman Coliseum 'sports' were two thousand years ago, and, yes, humans may be slow learners, but that is far too long for us to get the message.

We here at Penn State have the world's third largest football stadium, a grand stage on which to observe brain damage (not to mention various other breaks and bruises) of our 'students'.  Of course, some of these players actually are students in a serious rather than technical sense of the term.  How many leave here with fewer IQ points than when they came, is not known.  At least some do major in actual college-level subjects, and many are very fine students (as I can say from direct personal experience).

But it is time to change, NFL or not.  Let those who want to gladiate for money in the NFL get their brain-damaging preparatory experience elsewhere.  We are supposed to be universities, places of classroom and lab learning, not brute brain bashing.  Football may have been safer decades ago before training methods improved to make these guys huge monsters in size and strength.  It's not their fault, of course, but ours--the adults at universities.  We brought this about, and there is one reason: we wanted money from attendees, alums, TV networks, and so on.  But  universities should not operate on the greed metric, but should stand for something higher, something better.

Indeed, we can have it both ways:  If we moved soccer 'football' to the stadiums, there would be a lot of grumbling from alumni, and maybe a few years of lower donations (mainly to the athletic department, one can surmise) and lower beer and hot dog sales, but eventually they'd all be back, cheering their lungs out for the Nittany Lion soccer team.  And they could have many more games--and for men and women--in a season.  It would eventually pay out.  Well, TV revenues might drop a lot for a while, but if other actual 'universities' followed suit, everything would recover, except the players.  They would not have to recover, since they'd have far fewer injuries (and protective headbands could be used to protect from damage during headers).  And they could take more, and more substantial, college courses while doing this.

It's worth thinking about, for those readers who still have their brains intact to do such a thing.

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