The buzz surrounding Sunday’s Super Bowl is beginning to build. That’s why it struck me as a bit discordant when our First Father  President Obama said he was not sure if he had a son he would want him to play football.

 When the President of this football crazy nation says that, you know there’s a problem. The problem of course is a number of recent studies have concluded that smashing your helmeted head into another helmeted head is not good for your brain. Doing it over and over for years is actually really bad. So bad that as you age,  you increase your chances of losing your memory and sanity. Your life span appreciably diminishes.                                 

Predictably a number of football players and ex-players now broadcasters have said that  if they had it to do over they would play football,  and have encouraged their children to follow in their large-cleated footsteps. I wonder if they will say the same thing in 30 years when some of them are contemplating suicide or are being fed by their spouse who they do not recognize.                  

But they are grown men, and get to decide what they do with their lives. Their children are another matter. It seems cruel and unfair to put  children at what appears to be significant risk of permanent injury and early death. Parents are supposed to protect children from danger, not increase the exposure. That’s why parents discourage children from getting into  a stranger’s car even though most times nothing bad would happen to them.                       

And there are lots of  other sports to teach the kids teamwork, fair play and dealing with victory and defeat. Just pick  one where you don’t get your head bashed in.

Now the NFL has a real problem here. They need lots of little kids playing football so that they can winnow down to the fast behemoths that we cheer to see collide on Sunday. I’m as big a fan as any. but I have to ask myself at what human price my entertainment is worth. I liked cheering for Junior Seau, but I’m not sure  if it was worth his recent suicide. Same for Bear Dave Duerson.  

We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg. This maiming for entertainment is only going to get worse. I am reminded of the Romans.  Soldier Field has become our Roman Colosseum. The citizenry in both venues gather for  bloody sport.  At least the football players don’t die right away.

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John Hubbuch

John is an Indiana native who moved to Oak Park in 1976. He served on the District 97 school board, coached youth sports and, more recently, retired from the law. That left him time to become a Wednesday...

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