Killing our kids for entertainment

I can’t understand why tackle football is a thing high school students are allowed to do. I take no issue with the pros — they are adults raking in huge sums of money to take the risks they do — but there’s nothing in it for college players, and even less for high school students. Shit, if they aren’t considered wise enough to weigh the risks against the benefits of smoking, why are they allowed to brutalize themselves before a captive audience once a week throughout fall and early winter?

Because it’s entertaining! Amirite?

Well, if one thing is certain, the parents and players of Shoreham-Wading River High School were not entertained Wednesday night, when a 16-year-old varsity player died after suffering a severe injury sustained from a collision with an opposing player.

Tom Cutinella, a 16-year-old student at Shoreham-Wading River High School, suffered a serious head injury during Wednesday night’s game against Elwood-John H. Glenn High School, according to Suffolk County Police spokeswoman Joan Jesinger.

Cutinella was transported to Long Island’s Huntington Hospital, where he died later, Jesinger said.

He was the third high school football player to die in the last week, according to published reports.

Jesinger said police were investigating Cutinella’s death.

“It was the result of a typical football play,” Superintendent Steven Cohen told reporters Thursday. “It was just a freak accident.”

No, it wasn’t a freak accident. A bolt of lightning striking a tree, knocking it over on top of a speeding car is a “freak accident”. This doesn’t qualify. No one takes to the road expecting a tree is going to fall onto their head, but the risks of football are understood, as are the forces involved. Players take the field expecting to get hurt, and fans take the stands expecting the players to get hurt. You can’t act surprised when one such injury turns out to be fatal. It may have been the least likely of consequences, but it was there the whole time, hidden in the fog of probability.

This was bound to happen sooner or later.

Personally, I’m with Malclom Gladwell on this: if the pros want to play tackle ball, that’s their prerogative as well-compensated adults; but in college and high school, whether the players have not yet reached the legal age of majority, or are not being adequately compensated for the risks they take, the practice should be banned.

No, two-hand touch isn’t as entertaining as tackle football, but what’s more important? Getting your jollies off, or your kids’ brains?

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