Football – a debate

by Louise

With fall fast approaching, we return to sports at all levels – school, college and pro. A big one is football.

I was discussing football with my kid and he mentioned that students were out of school due to football related concussions. I happened to have lunch with a bunch of people and one guy was very opposed to his kid playing football. Then, I watch Last Chance U where football seems to be the only way out for young men from disadvantaged backgrounds. They want to play in spite of concussions hoping that they will be recruited to big football schools. I was troubled by this.

Next, I see this article on CTE.

CTE found in 99% of studied brains from deceased NFL players

What do you think ? Do you think football will continue as is or will people slowly turn away ? Will kids continue to play given the emerging research ? Discuss.

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86 thoughts on “Football – a debate

  1. I think football will continue. There is already a greater emphasis on safety, and that will only increase. I do think fewer kids will play, especially at younger ages, but youth football won’t end. It’s too entrenched in many areas.

    I have to admit to being a complete hypocrite when it comes to college football. I think the schools are exploiting the players, yet I continue to watch.

    I found this story to be very interesting. An NFL player retired to pursue his Math PhD at MIT:

    http://www.baltimoreravens.com/news/article-1/Genius-John-Urschel-Explains-His-Decision-To-Retire-From-NFL/f6bad749-3ef1-4f90-b4fc-f05aea3ca5c5

  2. I have a friend whose 5 year old son loves sports, particularly any sport involving a ball, and especially likes football. All he wanted for Christmas was a helmet and football. This is driven by the kid (my friend and her husband are not big football fans). I think my friend is hoping to channel her son into other sports; I would be surprised if she lets him play football. I think participation in football will decrease among middle/upper income families.

  3. Different activities and professions have different associated risks and returns. In the past, the risks were not as well known. But, even when they are known, people are still willing to take them. Unless, the desire to watch football declines to the point where the salaries paid are not worth the risks, I think it will continue to be a draw.

  4. I have also been disappointed by the Seahawks willingness to sign players with serious allegations of DV against them. I was much more of a Seahawks fan in the past but their continued willingness to overlook DV charges if a player is good enough on the field has turned me off.

  5. It has faded a bit and will continue to do so, slowly over time. CTE is one factor; the other shenanigans haven’t helped either. My sense too is that younger people don’t value sports– at least, as spectators– as much. If so, there will be a generational fade too.

    That said, outside of some really nasty on-field problem– e.g. a grisly death on the football field– football will probably still be #1 for a long time (by a declining margin). Football is a fun sport to watch, action-packed, strategy, drama, etc. Another big advantage is that it’s mostly on the weekends and does not require as much attention to stay current. (I’m fading on football too, but it passed up baseball for me a long time ago, for that reason,)

  6. My neighbor played college and pro football and is now the team ortho surgeon. His own son played football in high school, which was probably inevitable given his pedigree. I too watched Last Chance U and had the same thoughts about the role football played for those young men. Our university has a storied football program and I also see the role it plays in building affection and donations for the school.
    OTOH, the concussion issue is not going to disappear. Not sure I would have encouraged my kids to play. DS broke his tibia playing unauthorized tackle football at recess, which gave me license to forbid him to play for a team. Even though he would have been safer playing with proper equipment than on the playground.

  7. One other note: economists use helmets as a great example of the “moral hazard problem”– by insuring against something, you make the insured-against event more likely. See: unemployment insurance and banks that are “too big to fail”. In the context of football, if you make a better helmet, then you incentivize people to hit each other harder with their heads or not worry so much about their protected noggin. (I wonder if there was CTE when they played with leather helmets.)

    The risks are known– or known moreso. And people will increasingly respond to this. There are a lot of people and parents who will (at least tacitly) encourage Johnny and Jenny to play another sport. I could even imagine some peer effects here– where people are worried about what others think about their kids playing football.

  8. SSM – “allegations of DV”.

    No innocence before proven guilty? (applies to lots of other stuff, too).

    I fully support whatever choice you make re your sports-entertainment time and money…it does not have to rise to the level of technical guilt (or innocence) on the part of the players…Seahawks, Sounders, Huskies, even the Mariners however you want to channel it. And, yes, I agree that appearances do count (which is really the issue the (team/league) is having difficulty addressing adequately; they want the best players, and management probably wants to have the team admired as a city/region asset and the best players may have criminal records or “bad reputations” which can tarnish team images/drive fans away).

  9. What you say about football (& a couple other sports) being held out as a way to move forward for people who don’t have other chances to get ahead has been true for a long time. It distorts communities and the distribution of resources, and leaves most of the competitors behind, injured and without skills they might have gained, had they focused their efforts elsewhere. The specifics of concussions have just become clear over the last decade or so, but the damage to players” bodies, their ill-preparedness for later life, and the extremely small minority of people in that system who make it to the big time are nothing new.

    Sports can certainly teach kids all kind of life lessons, I’m all for “a strong mind in a strong body”, and keeping active is an essential part of healthy aging. That’s a different matter than how hard these kids are pushed. It’s a very unhealthy extreme.

  10. I like football. I played briefly and saw limited game-time action early in HS. My kids all played 7th-12th grade at their MS/HS, one was a starter on varsity his jr & sr years. They liked the camaraderie, the game, and yes, the hitting. Youngest broke his tibia and fibula in a game freshman year because he landed wrong after a shoulder-to-shoulder open field hit. It was just one of those things (i.e. no dirty play involved). He recovered and played his last 3 years.

    But I was glad when the last game ended last fall. I suppose the concussion aspect was part of it, but I just didn’t want him (or anyone actually) to have to deal with the rest of life limited by injuries from the sport.

    I do think there will be some decline in participation over time and I agree with Eric that future generations may want to do different things with their entertainment time/$. But as long as we continue to watch football on TV and buy tickets and merchandise, it will be lucrative enough for the owners to invest and pay the players enough to play.

  11. (I wonder if there was CTE when they played with leather helmets.)

    I’m going with yes:

    Such was football in 1905 that the drop-kicking of Francis Burr wasn’t even the worst thing to happen on that Nov. 25. Three players died that day. In a game against New York University, halfback Harold Moore of Union College tried to “buck the line,” in the words of the The St. Louis Republic. He was knocked unconscious by a blow to the head and died six hours later from a cerebral hemorrhage. He was 19.

    In Sedalia, Mo., 16-year-old Robert Brown was making a “run around the end,” or what we would know as an off-tackle run, when he was tackled and “thrown heavily upon the ground, alighting on his neck and shoulders … paralyzed from the neck down.” He died without regaining consciousness, according to the Mexico Missouri Message.

    Several hundred miles away in Rockville, Ind., Carl Osborne of Marshall High School was killed instantly when a broken rib punctured his heart, according to The St. Louis Republic.

    http://deadspin.com/did-football-cause-20-deaths-in-1905-re-investigating-1506758181

  12. The willingness of the Seahawks to hire a player is related to their assessment of his “productivity”. But in addition to the ability to run, catch, block and throw, current events in the NFL have illustrated that a broader sense of productivity can easily include team chemistry, the likelihood of a media circus, the preferences of an owner to put up with X, and the strength of customers’ preferences about a player’s non-football characteristics.

    In a word, if you’re a really good player, we’ll put up with a lot; if you’re marginal, no thanks. FWIW, I had an op-ed on this recently, relating it to claims about “discrimination”:
    http://schansblog.blogspot.com/2017/08/kaepernick-tebow-rice-mixon-hill-sams.html

  13. I have almost stopped watching football (college or pro), and I used to watch religiously and play fantasy football in two fun leagues. Between the concussions/CTE, the way that the NFL has handled the domestic violence and other criminal charges, my feelings about the NCAA, some of the gross behavior of the big football school boosters, and the annoying announcers, I am just done.

    I also don’t feel like I should support the exploitation of college kids playing football, in particular. It seems even worse for football than basketball or baseball because the injury rate is so high, average length of an NFL career is so short, and the real lack of opportunity for a talented 19 year old to play anywhere but the NCAA.

    I have some mixed feelings about hockey too, but I still watch that religiously. There is has more to do with concussions and some of the old school “fighting” culture than the league itself.

    I agree with Eric – football’s popularity is declining slowly, but it will be a long time until it is a #2 sport.

  14. Given how many kids play soccer at some point in their childhood and adolescence, I’m surprised soccer hasn’t taken off more.

  15. I am glad this topic came up, because I wanted to post LaDanian Tomlinson’s moving remarks at the end of his Hall of Fame acceptance speech for all to read, not just those who can tolerate the politics thread. They sound better in his own voice, and begin at approx 19:30 of his speech, but the transcript is here as well

    http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-hall-of-fame/0ap3000000826364/LaDainian-Tomlinson-s-Hall-of-Fame-speech

    “If this was my last day on earth, and this my final speech. This is the message I’ll leave with you. The story of a man I never met, my great, great, great, grandfather George,” Tomlinson said. “170 years ago, George was brought here in chains on a slave ship from West Africa.

    “His last name, Tomlinson, was given to him by the man who owned him. Tomlinson was a slave owner’s last name. What extraordinary courage it must have taken for him to rebuild his life after the life he was born to was stolen.

    “How did he reclaim his identity, his dignity when he had no freedom to choose for himself. I grew up on the land of a former slave plantation. And although I did not know this as a child, it is where my great, great, great grandfather tilled the soil. A few years ago I visited that same plantation in Central Texas with my family and stood in the slave quarters where he lived. It’s now named Tomlinson Hill.

    “My name began with the man who owned my great, great, great grandfather. Now it’s proudly carried by me, my children, my extended family. People stop me on the street because they know me as LT the football player. But after football people have begun to recognize me as LaDainian Tomlinson. Not simply for what I did as a football player, but for who I am as a man.

    “The family legacy that began in such a cruel way has given birth to generations of successful, caring Tomlinsons. I firmly believe that God chose me to bring two races together under one last name, Tomlinson.

    “I’m of mixed race and I represent America. My story is America’s story. All our ancestors, unless we’re American Indian, came from another country, another culture. Football is a microcosm of America. All races, religions, and creeds living, playing, competing, side by side.”

    Tomlinson continued: “When you’re a part of a team, you understand your teammates. Their strengths, their weaknesses. And work together towards the same goal, to win a championship. In this context, I advocate we become Team America. In sports, we’re evaluated on our desire and ability and given a chance to compete. America is the land of opportunity. Let’s not slam the door on those who may look or sound different from us. Rather, let’s open it wide for those who believe in themselves, that anything is possible, and are willing to compete and take whatever risk necessary to work hard, to succeed.

    “I’m being inducted into the Hall of Fame because my athletic ability created an opportunity for me to excel in the sport I love. When we open the door for others to compete, we fulfill the promise of one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.

    “On America’s team, let’s not choose to be against one another. Let’s choose to be for one another. My great, great, great grandfather had no choice. We have one. I pray we dedicate ourselves to be the best team we can be, working and living together, representing the highest ideals of mankind, leading the way for all nations to follow.

    “One of the most eloquent orators of our time said it best in his farewell address. Paraphrasing and humbling building upon what President Obama said, we all have to try harder, show up, dive in and stay at it. I am asking you to believe in your ability to bring about change, to hold fast to the faith and idea whispered by slaves, ‘yes, we can.’”

  16. I’m uber-totebaggy when it comes to football. I refuse to watch it. I don’t think the local schools should even have teams. The schools are getting a lot of taxpayer money to educate our children and make them productive members of society; why should they be offering — and encouraging — an activity that seems very likely to harm those kids’ brains and ability to fully function in society in the future?

    Luckily DS has no interest at all in football. DH played in high school, and liked it, but he too is glad that DS isn’t interested.

  17. Given how many kids play soccer at some point in their childhood and adolescence, I’m surprised soccer hasn’t taken off more.

    Americans just don’t like to watch it (unless our kids are playing). Plus there’s never going to be enough money for a US league to become the premier league in the world. Americans will always consider whatever pro league is running here (currently MLS) to be a minor league in comparison to the European leagues.

  18. DS wanted to play football in 6th grade and ended up not being up to because of an injury he got playing baseball, ironically. He had no interest in playing after that.

  19. I like watching football but won’t let DS play (he’s too small anyway). My high school didn’t have a football team when I went there, but over the past two years they got a lot of publicity because their coach was a former NFL coach (he resigned last spring). It was sort of neat to see all of the publicity and pride from alumni even though the team was still terrible.

  20. And can I take this opportunity to admit something that I cannot admit in my real life, because I would be run out of town by all the fanatics: I don’t like Tom Brady.

  21. And speaking of soccer, it has the highest concussion rate for girls sports, and overall, girls suffer more concussions than boys do in similar sports.

  22. Meme – thanks for posting that.

    Ivy – the number of fighting penalties is down dramatically in the NHL over the past 15 or so years. And fights are even less frequent in the playoffs (measured as fights/game). I do agree that in the minor leagues and major junior leagues there are a lot more fights and I think it has to do will putting more fan butts in seats. “I went to the fights last night and a hockey game broke out” is not too true of the NHL today. The Black Hawks have had fewer than 16 fights (= 1 every 5+ games) in each of the past 4 seasons. (yes, there is still plenty of rough play maintaining the likelihood of concussion/other injury).

    “exploitation of college kids playing football…”

    Yes, this is a difficult thing. What the coach/recruiter promises (chance to get a degree and playing time) vs the reality of how hard earning the degree can be given the combination of frequent poor HS preparation, the amount of time college football really takes, and the conflicting incentives of having to win to keep their jobs (coaches) and having to beat out all the other guys to earn playing time for the players. This is not limited to football…it’s a reality in all other scholarship sports.

  23. My son’s first high school football game is Saturday. I don’t know if he will get any playing time, but he is very excited about being on the team. My daughters played track, soccer, basketball, volleyball and rugby. I have no moral standing to tell him he can’t play football because of the risk.

    I don’t particularly like watching football. It seems slow and boring. I much prefer basketball, soccer or rugby, which are all basically the same sport.

  24. We have a major league football stadium and a minor league baseball stadium. The soccer associations are trying for a MLS stadium.
    Not sure if the minor league baseball stadium is making money. It’s a social outing arena and not really baseball watching. I gave up watching early in the game.
    I guess we don’t have a strong professional sports watching culture.

  25. “Given how many kids play soccer at some point in their childhood and adolescence, I’m surprised soccer hasn’t taken off more.”

    It is long, boring, and too low-scoring. This is a nation that changed the basketball rules to jack up scoring in a game that was already fast-paced and high-scoring. You think we’re going to have the patience to sit for a couple of hours while little dots* run back and forth across the TV screen?

    *The field is also so big, and the play so spread out, that it is much harder to get a camera shot that shows both the overall setup of the players and the moves of the players immediately around the ball. For that reason, I don’t think it is as telegenic as football, where you can at least see the effort at the line of scrimmage while the QB is getting set or handing the ball off.

  26. LfB….soccer is so much more interesting than football. The long passes are awesome. Football is everyone run into each other and then have a group hug for a while then do it again.

  27. It is long, boring, and too low-scoring. This is a nation that changed the basketball rules to jack up scoring in a game that was already fast-paced and high-scoring.

    There is no reason we couldn’t have “American Rules Soccer” played on a football field with rules designed to get 30-40 goals a game. Maybe no goalies?

  28. “I don’t like Tom Brady.”

    Come to my house NoB. We abhor all things Patriots and Brady. In fact, we don’t even watch football. It’s boring and confusing (says the hockey fan which has just as many wacky rules).

    I’m glad DD mentioned soccer – it’s just as violent with less protection. And it’s a really dangerous sport to play as a kid.

    We won’t stop our kids from full-contact sports. I think we are going to put our oldest on ice skates this winter (maybe we’ll have a hockey player). My youngest is a freaking fish, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that continues. Our oldest also likes soccer, or at least chasing the ball around and throwing it in the net. They are little so anything is possible.

  29. Rhett – football fields and soccer pitches are roughly the same size. It’s the number of players on the field at any given time that is the difference. If you remove the goalie, you have to reduce the net size to make some challenge. If you want to up the goal scores, tell the goalies that they can’t use their hands.

  30. Rhett – football fields and soccer pitches are roughly the same size.

    Football fields are 53 1/3 yards wide FIFA reg soccer pitches can be up to 79.83 yards wide.

  31. “It is long, boring, and too low-scoring.”

    Which, along with the violence perpetrated by/on OTHER PEOPLE, is why football is so popular. Even if it’s a low-scoring game, there’s always the attractiveness of the violence.

    I think basketball (NBA) is pretty boring, because the first 3.5 quarters of most games are just warmup for the last 6 minutes. IMO. Great athletes doing things I never ever could, but to me boring still (and I’m a Warriors fan since the Cow Palace days).

    Baseball has waned in popularity for a lot of reasons, but the long, boring part is also true. Except for the true fans like me who love a well-played 2-1 game with a total of 8 hits between the two teams and 2-3 defensive gems. Especially if <2.5 hours (rare nowadays). But we are literally a dying breed.

    Now for boring the quintessential is golf on TV. But even worse is golf on the radio (yes, Sirius/XM had the PGA on the airwaves this past weekend.

  32. I thought about Brady, his diet and the whole trying to keep as fit as possible and at the same time taking blows to the head which is just the opposite of trying to keep as fit as (mentally) possibly for the long term.

  33. If Brady’s team does their job, he shouldn’t end up on the bottom of the pile… :)

    But, his wife is worth something like 3x what he is, so you know… they are fine.

  34. Hey, don’t get me wrong — I am a big fan of long, boring, and low-scoring (baseball is still my favorite, and I infinitely prefer college basketball to the pros, because I love a good defense better than just about anything except perhaps a perfect bounce pass). But when a league actually invents a foul for “illegal defense” because it worked too well, and then has to add in bonus points for long-distance shots, you know the fan base is not really focusing on defensive strategy and precise offensive execution.

    All that said, I do love football — large, buff men in tight pants beating the crap out of each other, what’s not to love — but I am suitably liberal to feel guilty about it. I do suspect that the love is going to fade a bit, because the knowledge that the boys out there are doing themselves permanent brain damage takes some of the bloom off the rose (well, even moreso than the steroids/joint injury/heart attack issues of years past did).

    But as we’ve talked about here before, there is always going to be a market for it. I remember arguing a year or two ago that football was going to go the way of boxing, which in the ’70s was *huge* — not just in the current PPV way, but in a whole cross-section of society way — but over time became less acceptable to the UMC out of concerns over the boxers’ health, and then really faded once people saw what it did to Muhammed Ali. But then others pointed out: look at MMA. Even if “pure” boxing isn’t as widely popular as it used to be, we have replaced it with something that is even more dangerous to its participants.

  35. We used to watch a lot of sports. And we would watch a lot of college and pro football. Several years ago I pretty much stopped watching football because it felt like watching gladiators die in slow motion. The last pro basketball game I went to over 10 years ago drove me bonkers with the constant “entertaining” of the fans – playing 10 second music clips one after the other.

    I love college basketball still and enjoy good defensive games. I enjoy 2-1 baseball games like Fred mentioned. I’m starting to really get into soccer and enjoy how the fans are fans of the game and there aren’t any breaks.

    We told our kids they can’t play football or hockey because they are too dangerous. When they say it isn’t fair I tell them that if that is the worst thing in their lives, they don’t have anything to complain about. I have had other parents tell me they don’t want their kids to play football but their kids are playing. I don’t get it. Can’t they tell their kids no?

    Our kids play soccer, which can be dangerous, but nowhere as dangerous as football. Hockey is dangerous but also expensive and the culture is insane here.

  36. A pediatrician friend has a 5th grade son built like a linebacker. She signed him up for soccer and baseball, which he hated, and although she would prefer that he took up a safer sport, football is his passion so for now she is letting him play.

  37. Tcmama – similar to what Scarlett just posted – a lot depends on the build of the child. If the build and athletic ability aren’t there, it is an easy no and very likely that the child will not be interested. But if the build and athletic ability are there, it’s not that easy.
    I observed a big growth spurt in 6th/7th grade boys. Some kids clearly had the build, the rest did not.

  38. There is no reason we couldn’t have “American Rules Soccer” played on a football field with rules designed to get 30-40 goals a game. Maybe no goalies?

    They tried indoor soccer several times and it never caught on.

    I have had other parents tell me they don’t want their kids to play football but their kids are playing. I don’t get it. Can’t they tell their kids no?

    Sure they can if they really want to. My guess is that these parents would “prefer” that their kids don’t play, but obviously not strong enough to tell them no.

    Baseball has waned in popularity for a lot of reasons, but the long, boring part is also true. Except for the true fans like me who love a well-played 2-1 game with a total of 8 hits between the two teams and 2-3 defensive gems. Especially if <2.5 hours (rare nowadays). But we are literally a dying breed.

    I don’t mind low-scoring baseball games if they are played at a reasonable pace. But a 2-1 game that still takes 3 hours or longer is agonizing to watch. The problem isn’t the length of the games, it’s the pace of the games.

  39. Football is fun to watch and fun to play. Rainy day PE in high school, as often as not, they’d abandon whatever we were supposed to be doing in favor of coed flag football; good times. We used to play touch football with our cousins when we were all together. And as a bandie, I watched a lot more college football than the typical student at my not-very-football-focused alma mater.

    But, the strong and growing weight of evidence of CTE is very off-putting.

    My youngest is the one with a football build and he’s never been interested, so we don’t have any tough calls to make that way.

  40. @Fred – I totally agree with you on the NHL, and the Blackhawks as well. I don’t think it is the actual players/coaches in the NHL as much as the legacy and the attitude of a minority of fans that are looking for that “fighting” culture.

    I agree with everything you said about college sports as well. The thing that bothers me the most about football is that wannabe professional athletes have no other options. Talented baseball and hockey players have a viable minor league route. Basketball players can now be drafted right out of HS. But football players have no viable minor league – no option except to play for an NCAA team. I think it causes two problems – football players who are being exploited on one level and schools that are just a stopping point for wannabe professional players who have no interest in getting a college education. With sports where there are alternatives, there are still the same pressures, but it’s more of a choice.

  41. I played high school football and declined to play in college based on the then scant research linking the sport to concussions. Full contact outside on the games has been virtually eliminated, so that helps. The level of violence and force in just a high school game would shock you.

    Overall, watching sports makes less sense to me than watching videogames on line.

    Thank you, Meme, for posting the LT speech. I found myself thinking/humming “Rise Up”.

  42. @Eric – you’re right. Baseball and hockey too. Although the stories about playing hockey in Finland don’t sound as great as playing basketball in Spain and Croatia!

  43. Meme – thanks for the LT speech.

    My kid is built for football and is very athletic. He still doesn’t get to play. I think the risks in football with CTE are too severe.

  44. “We told our kids they can’t play … hockey”

    TCM – (I rarely give parenting advice, but here I go): Given where you live, I hope you’ll be sure your kids can ice skate, with hockey skates. As around here, I am sure ice skating is a social skill where you are. e.g. my oldest’s 6yo bday party was at the rink. In July. Most of the kids could skate, and all tried. From then I decided that even if my other two hated hockey (they also love it) they would learn to skate thru the beginner hockey program for at least a year. I didn’t want them to either opt out of a friend’s bday party because they were afraid to skate, or sit on the bench while the rest of the kids skated.

    Also, once kids master stopping and how to crash into the boards (both taught in the first year of beginner hockey) the sport is not very dangerous, IMO. Thru ~30+ kid years of youth hockey ages 4-17 for my 3 kids: 1 broken finger.

    No, your kids may never play for Shattuck St Mary’s, but being able to play pickup pond hockey with their friends is something they should be able to do. It’ll lead to many years of beer league hockey later in life.

    Now I’ll shut up.

  45. Jane Siberry – Hockey Lyrics

    Winter time and the frozen river
    Sunday afternoon
    They’re playing hockey on the river
    Rosy
    He’ll have that scar on his chin forever someday his girlfriend will say hey
    Where
    He might look out the window or not
    You skate as fast as you can ’til you hit the snowbank that’s how you stop
    And you get your sweater from the catalogue
    You use your rubber boots for goal posts
    Ah walkin’ home
    Don’t let those Sunday afternoons
    Get away get away get away get away
    Break away break away break away break away
    This stick was signed by jean belliveau so don’t fucking tell me where
    To fucking go
    On Sunday afternoon
    Someone’s dog just took the puck-he buried it it’s in the snowbank your turn
    They rioted in the streets of montreal when they benched rocket richard it’s
    True
    Don’t let those Sunday afternoons
    Get away get away get away get away
    Break away break away break away break away
    The sun is fading on the frozen river
    The wind is dying down
    Someone else just got called for dinner
    Rosy
    Hmm Sunday afternoon

  46. Fred, ITA.

    DS has always had very little interest in participating in sports (although in hindsight, I think he might’ve liked Aikido, given its cerebral and spiritual nature). But I wanted to make sure he had enough basic skills that in the future, say at a company picnic, he’d be able to participate in pickup games.

    So as he was growing up, I’d force him to go in the backyard with me for ten minutes at a time and play catch with a baseball, or take turns running routes and throwing the football, or shoot some hoops.

    BTW, his HS has a PE requirement that can be met through participation in interscholastic sports, or afterschool sports programs. He initially was planning to run cross-country, even though he didn’t like it, to meet half of his PE requirement (the maximum PE credit for any one sport is half the PE requirement) and free up a slot for an extra class. But he discovered that in-school PE doesn’t count against the maximum number of classes he was allowed to take, and XC conflicted with other afterschool activities he liked, so he took in-school PE instead. It turned out that in-school PE was essentially PE for non-jocks, and he really had a lot of fun because of that, and said that for many kids, it was as much fun as they’d had participating in sports.

  47. Football is a game that lends itself to pickup games better than most sports. You just need an open area and a ball.

    IMO, that’s part of why it’s popular– a lot of us have played it in some form, whether touch, flag, 7 on 7, or full pads, and had a lot of fun.

    Despite a lack of size, made up for a lack of speed and quickness, I played a lot of football, mostly touch, from small kid days well into adulthood. I can look back fondly on many fall Saturdays in my 20s and 30s, heading to a park to meet some other engineers for some touch football, and playing touch football on my employer’s front lawn (which was ideal because it was always kept in good shape) during lunchtime or after work.

  48. Fred – good parenting advice. Our school does a 6 week ice skating class each year for gym. DH is in charge of skates and keeps buying hockey skates. I don’t even know how to ice skate. I had been annoyed about the skating requirement but you make a good point that it is a life skill. Thanks!

    Speaking of sports – we were delayed 3 hours at O’Hare today. DH spotted Bastian Schweinsteiger and got his autograph. Nobody else noticed who he was – one of the best soccer players in the world! We had a copy of Das Reboot with us and got his autograph. DH is thrilled!!!

  49. I played soccer in camp as a kid, and I have watched 100s of soccer games. All kids with the occasional HS or college game if I was watching a friend’s kid. I went to my first professional game this summer. NYCFC plays at Yankee stadium, and our friends are season ticket holders. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I actually enjoyed it. I knew the rules from watching for so many years, and DH used to watch some games on TV with DD. It was really hot, but the fans were very into it, and it was easy to get caught up in some of the excitement. It was so much easier and less crowded to get to the stadium vs. baseball since there are fewer fans attending each game.

    DD gave up soccer this year, but I am really glad she played for so many years because she learned a lot, and she got a decent amount of exercise from all of the running. She never played travel, so it wasn’t a big commitment for us because all of her games were within 15 miles of our town.

    I don’t like football. I am not a football widow when the Giants play, but the outcome of the game definitely has an impact on DH’s mood. I don’t like to watch HS, college, or professional football. I just don’t get it, and I have no desire to spend my short time on earth watching football.

  50. Speaking of sports – we were delayed 3 hours at O’Hare today. DH spotted Bastian Schweinsteiger and got his autograph. Nobody else noticed who he was – one of the best soccer players in the world! We had a copy of Das Reboot with us and got his autograph. DH is thrilled!!!

    I’ve never even heard of the guy so I’m not surprised nobody recognized him.

    I find it interesting that a lot of people can recognize athletes fairly easily when they are out of context like that in a random encounter. Unless it’s someone who is very familiar, like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, I wouldn’t notice.

  51. I’ve never even heard of the guy so I’m not surprised nobody recognized him.

    I’ve heard of him but I wouldn’t have recognized him. I wouldn’t even recognize Maradona or Ronaldo at the airport.

  52. HHM, that’s my point. You see these guys in street clothes someplace where you’re not even thinking about them. How do people recognize them so easily?

  53. DD – DH recognizes people he sees on TV (he watches a ton of TV). He also travels a lot, most of the time in first/business domestic so he gets to see sports players, music stars etc. He happens to like Aerosmith and Steven Tyler was once on the same flight. Steven was surprised when DH produced an Aerosmith CD to get his autograph.

  54. NoB – I don’t particularly like Tom Brady either. Solidarity! :D

    Our kids won’t play football or hockey. I don’t watch football either. I like to watch (on tv) baseball, ice skating, and gymnastics. #2 wants to play soccer this year – not sure how it will go, none of them have tried it before. I also won’t allow any travel teams – too much hassle.

  55. I wouldn’t even recognize Maradona or Ronaldo at the airport.

    It would a funny Jaywalking spinoff to have Charlie Rose walk around LA with someone like Janet Yellen, Lewis Hamilton, Xi Jinping, Lionel Messi, Theresa May, etc. and ask people to guess who they were.

  56. @DD – I’ve seen & recognized quite a few pro athletes over the years. The thing is – the ones I’ve recognized stand out in public anyway because they are tall, fit guys. They don’t really blend in. And so as I notice them, then I think – Hey, that’s XXX!

    Funny enough I’ve seen quite a few athletes for local teams in the Nordstrom mens’ section. I’ve also seen some at restaurants. We sat next to Jonathan Toews celebrating his birthday with his girlfriend and parents last spring.

    I never say anything though.

    But – maybe the shorter, smaller ones – I wouldn’t recognize.

  57. Meme, Rhett, L – new big Wegmans to open in Natick Mall in 2018!

    “The Natick Wegmans is an innovative concept for the 101-year-old company. The space, a former department store with direct access to the mall, will house the 134,000-sq. ft. supermarket on two floors, including more than 100 seats for in-store café dining. Another 12,500 sq. ft. on the second floor will feature two restaurant concepts. Wegmans is also seeking a complementary tenant for the 45,000-sq. ft. third floor of the building.”

  58. “Would you recognize Amy Kolbuchar? How about if you saw her at the Capitol?”

    Me? No. But I’d recognize my own Congressman/Senators. And some of the others, especially the more powerful ones and the ones in neighboring districts.

  59. Well, it was TCM’s DH who recognized Bastian Schweinsteiger; I would hope he’d also recognize Amy Klobuchar if he saw her.

    But I was impressed when DS recognized her.

  60. NoB and L – I don’t have any number 12 merchandise. Tom Brady isn’t likeable, and doesn’t have many friends among his teammates, but he isn’t running for public office, is he, so that does not disqualify him. He is admired and feared as a result of his success, football intelligence, ferocious work ethic, and the high demands he places on his teammates. Just like Coach Belichick, who is actually pretty well liked by some of his players, a certain type of smart player wants to be on the team with Brady as his leader.

    July – I thought I posted a version of this earlier today, but it may have gotten stuck in the spam filter because I said something derogatory about Peyton, whom I like even less than Brady primarily because of his supposed halo and the way the NFL let him skate on early personal transgressions and late PED use. No need to free it up, I said what I wanted here without any trigger words.

  61. DD – DH knows very few professional athletes in any sport. Our DS has been obsessed with Germany soccer ever since they won the world cup in 2014, so we probably know German soccer player’s pretty well. I have no idea how DH recognized him because he was wearing a hat and is pretty average looking – not like he was 6’10. It made the delay worth it.

  62. I would recognize my congresswoman if I saw her at the Capitol, because that’s in context. I wouldn’t recognize her if I saw her in a restaurant or something. I did recognize Gov. Hickenlooper at one of DS’ baseball games I coached, but that was largely because I knew his son was on the other team so I was looking to see if he was there. But I never would have noticed him otherwise.

    A friend of mine was working out at his gym a few years ago and was talking about his family’s recent Disney trip with someone. Another guy overheard him and joined in and talked to him for about 10 minutes. After he left the first guy asked my friend if he knew who he was just talking to, and my friend had no clue. It was Champ Bailey (a great player with the Broncos).

  63. It would a funny Jaywalking spinoff to have Charlie Rose walk around LA with someone like Janet Yellen, Lewis Hamilton, Xi Jinping, Lionel Messi, Theresa May, etc. and ask people to guess who they were.

    Similar to this, a few years ago when Mets pitcher Matt Harvey was starting the all-start game, some show sent him out on the streets of NY as a reporter to ask people what they thought of Matt Harvey. They said nobody realized it was him.

  64. Tx Hmom. BTW, I think Vermin should be in the running for most creative topic of the year.

  65. Meme – what happened in the end with the dumpsters at your condo ?

    Houston – Good Luck to your DS. I imagine him enjoying his swanky surroundings.

    I was just thinking college. A few colleagues I worked with went through the whole getting into college bit with their kids. Four years passed quickly and those kids have already graduated.

  66. “concussion rates in hockey aren’t much lower than football.”

    I looked briefly at the study.
    The football study was of 8-12yo and had a 1.76/1,000 event occurrence of concussion
    The hockey study was of 12-18yo and had a 1.58/1,1000 event occurrence of concussion, or ~90% of the rate reported for football, so I’ll give you that the rates were similar.

    The point I’ll make, unsupported by data, is that I believe a similarly run study of 12-18yo football players would show a higher, perhaps much higher, rate/1,000 events of concussion than would be present for the 8-12yo studied. Just by virtue of the bigger, faster, stronger players involved.

  67. Louise – We are supposed to have three members of the Board of Trustees. We have only two right now, one of whom is very passive, because the chief is overly fixated on the garbage and on meaningless cosmetic issues. She works like a dog for the group, but on the wrong things. Meanwhile we need an engineering study and some sort of regrading to mitigate the effects of flood. A couple of us have discussed running for trustee as a slate next year to take over the Board. We have neighborhood raccoons and a few remaining rats on the hill behind us, but we are only one of three local dumpsters. There are two restaurants on the main street a few hundred feet away from our complex.

    As for insect control, the management company sprays the foundations against ants in the appropriate season, and the trees and grass for their health, so we don’t have much in the way of bugs.

  68. Rhett – I’d like to think I’d recognize Theresa May or Lewis Hamilton…

    A number of years ago, I ran into Patrick Elias of the NJ Devils in a movie theater in Clifton. The team had just gotten off the plane from a playoff game and must have had the night off. They stood out because of their suits, but no one even looked at them. I waved hi, smiled, and moved along. He smiled back.

    I also saw Vinny LeCavelier (when he was on the TB Lightning) in Walmart. He was looking a little greasy and skeevy, so I avoided him. I barely recognized him.

    I would know our senators and congressmen because I’ve met 3/4 of them. I don’t think I’d recognize my mayor out on the town though.

    I think I’m terrible at recognizing famous or semi-famous people when I’m out and about. They would have to be people I’m used to seeing constantly, like a favorite TV show or team. And even then, probably not. Plus, many actors/actresses look so different without makeup, or less makeup that I wouldn’t know them from anyone.

  69. And then you have people like me who accosted someone in our local supermarket because I thought he was a reality show celebrity. It turns out he was just a local dad. My D was with me and she was horrified. I was a bit horrified, too, and learned my lesson.

    Sometimes I’ll spy a person with a striking appearance, the “glow” of celebrity, and wonder if they’re famous. Chances are they’re just very rich.

  70. We are planning to buy a new car within the next week or so. Has anyone used Costco to buy their car? How was the experience? Any recommendations on other car buying services? We negotiated our last car purchase, which we were happy with, but are thinking about using a service this time.

  71. We bought our car through Costco last November. It was fine. The only thing that I found annoying was after you submitted the request to Costco, they send it to the dealer, and then you have to wait for the dealer to contact you. This was a Saturday so I get they were busy, but the dealer didn’t call until about 6 pm.

    I also can’t figure out why when you aren’t negotiating price, you still end up spending 2 hours at the dealer to do the sale.

    And if you do go with Costco, they have a lower price on the extended warranty, but nobody told the warranty guy we went through Costco until it happened to come up in conversation. So make sure you say that up front when they offer you the warranty.

  72. Houston — I sent you an email but I’m not sure if I have your correct contact information. You can email me at gntotebag gmail.com.

    “This was a Saturday so I get they were busy, but the dealer didn’t call until about 6 pm.”

    Your standards are higher than mine. I would not have expected an immediate response. I would have been happy just getting a same-day response.

    We used Consumer Reports, which I believe is similar in process to Costco. It went smoothly. We were able to select the dealer that saved us about $1000 (iirc) compared to the others that responded.

  73. July, I might have sent the request the day before, I don’t recall at this point. But I had emailed a couple of dealers directly to get comparison quotes, and they got back to me within an hour. So yeah, I expected a quicker response.

  74. Denver and July: Thanks. I appreciate the feedback. I will report back on what we end up doing.

  75. I just caught myself using the phrase “have a heart for” unironically, for the first time in years, or probably decades. You people are bad for me, lol. But I was chatting with a British Pakistani guy, who just said that he heard it in an American accent, so I guess that’s what we’re exporting.

  76. Tcmama – did you see the story last year – shortly after the Chicago Fire signed Bastian Schweinsteiger, someone saw him at the airport with some of this new Chicago Fire teammates (they were traveling for an away game). The person asked Schweinsteiger to take a picture of her with the Fire players. Which if you’re a soccer fan, is pretty funny (no disrespect to the Fire MLS players in the photo but they’re generally not considered in the same league as a World Cup champion).

  77. DD – regarding the concussion right in soccer, my BIL is a neurologist, and my nephew plays high school soccer and for a club team. My sister said you can hear him loudly on the sideline every time my nephew heads the ball yelling “not with your f%#}{*g head!!” She said she now sometimes hears other parents yell the same thing.

    Meme thank you for sharing that speech – it was very moving. I hope it is shared widely.

    My DH has at least 6 concussions that I know of, so I’m pretty strongly opposed to contact sport. DS played flag football and soccer when he was younger, but no sports in high school.

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