Friday, December 4, 2015

Sports: shaking us from complaceny, inspiring us and the dark side

Three sports-related stories to end your work week, though truthfully, none are actually about sports themselves, but the role sports play in our lives and the impact those games have on people. Because as much fun as the games are, they are often more than just games.

This is Not A Game -

My sister-in-law works 11 miles from where the shooting in San Bernardina took place. She and her family are safe. It was a little disconcerting to know she was so close to the most recent shooting. But there's going to be another shooting. And another one after that, and another after that. I don't have all (or really any) of the answers as to how to stop this, but doing nothing doesn't seem to be working. More to the point, the mass shootings are now just background noise in our lives. This shouldn't be normal, and it may be up to sports to shake us from our complacency.

Race Against Time - 

Andrea Duke was working in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. A few days after that, a colleague asked her if she wanted to go for a run to escape, briefly, the stress resulting from the terror attacks. That turned in to running marathons for fun. Now, at age 36, Andrea is competing for a spot on the US Olympic team against competitors against competitors 15 years younger. She makes me feel bad about myself for not doing more than going for walks between one and three miles.

 Homeless and Mentally Ill, a Former College Lineman Dies on the Street

While I can't say conclusively that football causes permanent brain damage, there's mounting evidence that it does something to the brain. And helmets, for as great as they are, are designed to protect the skull, not the brain. That's an important distinction. So I have no way of knowing if former North Carolina lineman Ryan Hoffman would have suffered from mental illness had he not played football, but I can't say he wouldn't have either. This story (and the linked story within from March) tell of what Hoffman went through following his playing days at UNC-Chapel Hill.

I still watch football, though not nearly as much as I used to. I'm uneasy knowing that a game being played for my entertainment may result in serious mental damage. I can't break myself fully of the habit, but I'm getting closer.

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