Tuesday’s Rant: Football
Football is everything that’s wrong with America.
Okay, sure, our economy is currently choking out its death rattle, we’ve got homegrown terrorists, and don’t forget the dime store culture of our mass media. But other than that, football is everything else that’s wrong with America.
This isn’t about whether it’s a fun sport to watch, or better or worse than other sports*. It’s that, looked at objectively, football has got to be the worst allocation of educational resources imaginable. Football is virtually the only activity that you simply cannot enjoy after college. Think about it – painting, music, baseball or softball, tennis, bicycling, rowing, reading, swimming – these are all things that you can continue to pursue into your dotage. But football ends usually sometime before youth itself.
Then there are the injuries and deaths. I find this astounding – we live in a society that bans peanuts on what is, objectively, some pretty thin evidence of potential harm.** But at the same time you’ve got children dying from football (weirdly, in looking for a link to football deaths, you find that they slice them up into “heat-related,” “dietary supplement-related,” and “spinal cord” as if it makes any damn difference – they all have to do with the culture, expectations, and design of the game of football) but we just don’t seem to care as much, basically because it’s football. You’ll take our game when you pry it from the cold dead fingers of my neighbor’s child. Literally.
Of course, the only argument in favor of football is that it makes money for schools. There are two things that are infuriating about this argument to me. One is that, let’s face it, it really only makes money for the football program, which is only nominally a school function. The second and more important is that the purpose of school programs is to educate children, not turn a profit. The subtext of the money argument is that art programs and band and like social studies are drags on the system since all they do is educate and don’t make any money.
- It isn’t and it’s worse, by the way, but that’s, like I said, not the point.
- * Here’s a quote about peanut allergies from Salon:
The claim that 150 to 200 people die each year from anaphylaxis (one kind of peanut allergy reaction) is grossly exaggerated. In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control cited just 14 deaths due to anaphylaxis. The only known registry of deaths from anaphylaxis noted 33 deaths between 1994 and 1999. Remember, all of these estimates refer to the total number of people who had an anaphylactic reaction for any reason, not just from peanuts or other foods.
Facts ought to be stubborn. In the past, Munoz-Furlong has stated that one child dying from an allergic reaction is too many. But Harvard doctor Christakis, again, puts things into perspective. “There are no doubt thousands of parents who rid their cupboards of peanut butter but not of guns,” he writes, comparing the alleged 150 children and adults who died from peanut allergies to the 1,300 who die from gun accidents each year. He goes on to note that 2,000 kids drown each year. Indeed, the most common cause of death in kids is accidents. “More children assuredly die walking or being driven to school each year than die from nut allergies,” Christakis writes.