The latest fad among football sportswriters and commentators seems to involve crowing about head injuries and long-term health effects from playing football.
There is currently a lawsuit by former NFL players against the league for health issues that are, they claim, a result of trauma received during their careers. They are trying to claim they did not know the risks involved when they played. Meanwhile, the NFL has instituted new rules to stop tackling — and the heavy hits that go with it — in training camp. This campaign is being mirrored at the amateur level.
The liberal sports media has jumped on board (despite no solid evidence that the game is dangerous), and, ironically, they may well kill the very sport that puts food on their tables. They can’t help it; a scorpion stings because it is a scorpion.
It is in this current climate of pacifism (and that is the purpose of the campaign: to turn football into a more pacific game, thus removing another layer of America’s masculinity) that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has signed a law mandating insurance for student-athletes.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
The law says that a school’s minimum policy will cover $3 million in aggregate benefits or five years of coverage – whatever comes first – for injuries that total medical expenses over $50,000. The law includes public and private schools and state officials estimate that the cost of the coverage will be no more than $5 a student. Currently, some schools carry insurance for athletes, but it hasn’t been mandatory. The Illinois High School Association provides students with this catastrophic insurance for state tournaments.
First, one must ask why this is needed, since it will soon be the law of the land that everyone be covered by health insurance. I was under the impression that ObamaCare was designed specifically to fix this sort of problem. Why are schools in Illinois being made to pay for catastrophic health insurance when Mr. Obama, the product of that state’s political genius, has already addressed the issue?
Second, why stop at high school? Certainly children in elementary school play sports, and they are as prone to injury as anybody. More so, perhaps, since their motor skills are not as well-developed, and what could be an easily avoided accident for an older kid leads to injury for a younger child. Why shouldn’t this be applied to all children?
This will kill many sports programs in poor school districts and likely in the lion’s share of private or parochial schools. Would a struggling Catholic school spend money needed for actually educating students on sports insurance? It will become a choice between teaching and athletics for many schools.
Of course, such would suit the educational commissars just fine. There has been an increasing effort by the Progressives to straitjacket young children. Sports are one outlet they have targeted, with an increasingly regimented and organized approach to what were once thought of as children’s games. Michelle Obama may say “Let’s Move!,” but she wants all movement under her watchful eye. Gone are the days of sandlot football, of a bunch of kids getting together for a stickball game or a spontaneous game of field hockey. Children now devote much of their time to thumb exercises as computers replace the athletic field. When children are allowed to play, they are wrapped up like mummies lest they get a bruise.
All this teaches a lesson to the children: private, individual action is dangerous and should be avoided. Life must be lived within the guardrails, carefully planned and safeguarded by society.
Even more distressing to the left is that sports started as a means of training for soldiers. That is why football is so appealing to America; it is a he-man sport, a vestige of the old America, where an association of free men stand together in battle. Yes, team effort is required, but there is also plenty of room for heroics, and the individual may make a huge difference.
But at football’s core is a physicality bordering on violence, and to the left, that is anathema — an atavistic impulse that must be squeezed out of our children.
So instead of a healthy game of tackle football at recess, liberals substitute Ritalin and maybe a good heated game of tag.
Consider the war against dodgeball. Progressives fret that it is traumatizing children and have been systematically banning the game. Why? Nobody ever gets hurt from dodgeball, but Progressive educators still want it gone. That is because of the actual acts performed in the game: one physically tries to hit another. The goal of the left has been to make physical aggression taboo; thus, dodgeball, which teaches children to be physically aggressive, must go.
So the campaign is on to pacify sports. Requiring insurance for dangerous sports will make those sports too costly to allow students to engage in them, and “violent” pastimes like dodgeball must have no place in schools. Further, young children are to be given trophies for participation rather than achievement, to make actual accomplishment meaningless.
As David Guthrie from the National Alliance of Youth Sports points out:
The primary argument I have heard over the years is that every kid needs to be recognized for what they have achieved. That’s fine if the child actually did achieve something. But why should simply “making it” through a season be considered achieving something? Looking at it that way tends to strongly imply, that a child playing a sport for a whole season has experienced a personal triumph in endurance. Isn’t participating in sports supposed to teach so much more than that?
No, at least not from the Progressive perspective. Sports are about so much less. They are about teaching children that they cannot accomplish things on their own. If some do well and are honored for their success, then the game is failing at its primary task.
In the end, liberals want a world under their control — one where impulses are channeled in the direction they choose, not where nature or free will directs. Sports are an expression of values, and those values must comport with the utopian vision of the left. There can be nothing outside the collective.