Hdc_0001_0001_0_img0069I don’t care deeply whether the home team wins, even in Columbus, Ohio, where our local Ohio State Buckeyes often and currently sit atop the national rankings of college football teams. (I’m just as happy with our Blue Jackets, who have yet to come of age in the NHL.) I’m just one of those guys that thinks sport is beautiful, athletes are admirable, and — if no one gets hurt, everyone plays fair, and the spectators don’t shout vulgarities (is this too much to ask?) — I’m glad they played.

It’s that “no one gets hurt” part that stops me from watching football. It’s a sport that’s designed to hurt people. A mid-September story (with chilling video presentations on the online version) in The New York Times started me thinking about the foolish danger of football and how players hide their concussions so they can stay in the game.

Then, last week, a front page article celebrates a new helmet design: “Helmet Design Absorbs Shock in a New Way.” I’m always glad for technological advances, but this one leaves me disappointed. Why spend money and talent trying to figure out how to help young men run faster toward each other to crash into each other harder? What a waste.

So I wrote The New York Times a letter (it’s the second on this page) and it was published in the Sunday Times yesterday:

A Violent Diversion

To the Sports Editor:

The greatest advance in helmet design will surely motivate a million young families, fearful of brain damage caused by concussions, to spend millions of dollars.

Decades from now, however, football will be remembered — because of injuries and the cost of so much time and energy invested in a violent diversion — as a risk that outweighed its small reward. Then, even a $350 helmet will look little more than a dunce cap, a high-tech excuse for parents to push their children toward an unnecessary head-banging.

Artie Isaac
Columbus, Ohio

Following Mahatma Gandhi’s teaching — be the change you want to see in the world — we’ve outlawed tackle football in our family. It isn’t about the value of learning teamwork, nor the value of great exercise. It’s about not scrambling one’s brains.