It's that time of year...football season. And whether you like the game or hate it, it is undeniable that it is an American obsession. Weekends across the country are dominated by football. On Fridays, it's high school. Saturdays is college, and Sunday and Monday night is Pro.
For many people, it is difficult to understand the appeal of the game. Eleven grown men running around a field trying to knock the life out of the others? It's a scary "sport" and even being a fan isn't necessarily a safe past time. Recently, headlines in the news cited the dangerousness of football, long after one retires. Concussions, dementia, and early death are just some legacies of a Pro.
Concussions are a scary thing. They can be innocuous. Symptoms can be subtle. Guidelines are sporadic and there aren't any comprehensive ones in place. Locally, in Maryland, legislators had seen possible regulations around the idea of "returning to play"--when a player is eligible to go back to the field. In many high schools, this occurrs when a medical professional "clears" them. This is where the difficulty comes: what factors do you look at to "clear"? Behavior? Physical symptoms?
Concussions occur when the head gets hit, sending the brain, which is encased in fluid, rocking against the skull.The initial aftermath can vary: someone can feel disoriented, dizzy, they may pass out, or a variety of other symptoms. Because the brain is fragile, this shaking can have long-lasting impressions. Multiple concussions have a likelihood of causing emotional dysregulation and can even led to suicide, when no signs seem to indicate this outcome.
With all of this danger, why does the sport continue to thrive? I think that the simple answer is that football is the American modern equivalent to gladiators fighting. The Roman Coliseum has long been closed, but every Sunday, in a stadium with cheering crowds, men go in to do battle. Just like in Roman times, these mass spectacles enable the masses to have an acceptable place in which to be aggressive. In some ways, it is the proximity to greatness that is so alluring. The athletic feats that some of these men accomplish are truly inspiring.
Most of us live ordinary lives, with little excitement or glamour, and most of us are perfectly content to settle into our average-ness. It is things like football, celebrity gossip, or things of the like that allow us to step out of the mundane and for a few moments, live a different life, even if most of it occurs in our imaginations.