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Letter: Should schools discuss banning football?

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Is it time for high schools and colleges to officially ban football? Educators devote their lives to the refinement of their students’ capacity to think. In other words, the educator’s task is to work with students in order to exercise the muscles of their brains. If this is the case, does the very mission of education put schools in irreconcilable conflict with football?

The new CTE scanning devices are confirming that many prominent football players suffer from a degenerative brain condition, which is caused by head trauma. In recent years, Mike Webster, Junior Seau, Tony Dorsett, and Leonard Marshall, just to mention a notable few, have been diagnosed with this condition. If the goal of educational institutions is to develop the students’ brains, how can we, in good conscience, allow football to flourish when we now know that the sport damages the brains of so many? Is there something in the nature of football that is in irreconcilable conflict with the mission of educational institutions?

This is a difficult editorial for me to write. Having grown up in Chicago, I have been a committed Bears fan for nearly my whole life, and since the Bears Super Bowl victory in 1985, I have become addicted to watching my favorite team on Sunday afternoons or Monday evenings. But recently, I learned that Jim McMahon, the quarterback who led the Bears to their Super Bowl victory, suffers from early onset dementia. He and many other football players are suing the NFL because the League knew the long-term effects of head trauma, but it strategically concealed this information from players. McMahon has recently declared that, if he could do it again, he would not have played football.

I don’t know if, after so many years, I can overcome my addiction to watching the Chicago Bears. But as an educator who has committed his life to the development of his students’ brains, I can find no way to reconcile my mission as an educator and the brutal reality of football.

It is time to start the process of getting football banned from high schools and colleges. 

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