Another guest-post excerpted from a comments which, despite differing with my conclusions, captures a lot of my own feelings about the game. I appreciate the frankness. The calculus at work--I sacrificed part of myself to push my family ahead--is not particularly alien. People who work on labor issues must know this well.
I usually do not post on these things. We all know the great things that Junior Seau did for his community, as have many of the athletes who have been diagnosed with this condition. I played college ball, high school and Pop Warner. I am 33 and have quite a few of these symptoms. I suffer from depression, I have been in recovery for 10 years, I have attention deficit disorder, I have had a headache everyday since I was 26- though they vary in severity, then on real lucky days throw in dizzy and light-headedness.
I self reported 20 concussions over my athletic career. I receive medical treatment for all of these symptoms because as it has been stated they do not know, and will not know until I pass away. So I either have CTE or just a lot of ailments.
My point is this football and athletics were an avenue for me, it provided me with the motivation and the sense of togetherness to seem through my academic studies. I graduated and have gone on to a steady job, I believe in volunteerism I give back to my community when I am able, nothing to the extent that Seau or his peers have but the meaning is there.
What does all this mean?
By completing college my children are now more likely to complete college. So ultimately, even with my list of ailments and the possibility of it getting worse worries/scares me I would do it again. It was a vehicle that I loved and it brought a better quality of life to my family, which is usually what our goals as parents typically is.
So before we start to discuss abolishing this great sport lets remember some of the skills these games teach- Commitment, accountability, fortitude, calculated risks, leadership, "fair play".
My opinion here is in order to effect change we need to address the culture of the game, it only hurts the team to play injured and only the coaches and the medical staff can make that determination if you ask a player with a broken leg to run he will tell you can do it, just not as fast as he did it the day before. A teammates commitment to his team does not really have an adjectives fit to describe it. That is why education and awareness is the only way to correct this because it is not just effecting football players or boxers, it can happen to anyone in a car accident, bicycle accident, and or soldiers in war zones.
Bottom Line is Nothing in Life is Free,, lets remember all of the folks for the good they had and shared with all of us as fans and honor the broken tragedies that their deaths represent. The real call to action is change how we are taught to play this game, not the game itself.
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is a national correspondent for The Atlantic
, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of The Beautiful Struggle
, Between the World and Me,
and We Were Eight Years in Power