Barack Obama – a Red Room member, by the way – has expressed concern about the damage football causes to its participants. If the violence in the game is reduced, thus also reducing the damage to bodies and brains, then ``those of us who are fans maybe won't have to examine our consciences quite as much,'' he said.
Scott Ostler, the fine columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, yesterday spoke with some of the San Francisco 49ers about the president's comments. The response he got is amazing, but not surprising, Ostler says, for men who earn their living playing the game.
Most said their kids could play at any age; several said they might even encourage their sons to play as pre-teens, despite the overwhelming evidence of the chance of brain damage to kids. Coach Jim Harbaugh said when his 4-month-old son was able to play, he might do better if statements such as Obama's discouraged competition from other youngsters.
One player said he wanted his son to be ``a man'' at age 8. Difficult for a kid to make a wise decision about his brain at age 8, one would think.
Fortunately, not all players feel this way. Terry Bradshaw, now retied but once a great player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, came out last year saying if he had young sons he would discourage them from playing until at least high school, and he'd think about it then.
Several other retired and prominent players have said similar things, perhaps thankful that they can still think through such issues.
But for these other players with the 49ers – well, Shakespeare said conscience doth make cowards of us all. They don't want to be looked on as cowards, that's understandable. But when you're talking about possible brain damage to kids?. . .
Scott Ostler's column:
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