Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Footballers

An open letter to Illinois state representative Carol Sente, regarding the dangers of playing tackle football, especially by children;

April 19, 2018

The Honorable Carol Sente
Illinois House of Representatives
59th House District
272-S Stratton Office Building
Springfield, Illinois 62706

Dear Representative Sente,

While reading an article in today’s Columbus Dispatch regarding a proposal to ban children in your state under the age of twelve from playing tackle football, I could not believe your comment that parents “need more time to absorb the evidence” which links repeated blows to the head to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Throughout the past two decades, colleges and pros have cut back on tackling in practice because of the brutality of the game, however, studies on the effects to the brain has only centered on concussions.

During the past six or eight years, if not longer, PBS aired two programs detailing the impact of tackle football on our youth. I do not remember the person’s name or occupation, but I will never forget the comment he made regarding the effects on a child’s brain when helmets bang together. He compared what happens to the brain as to shaking a bowl of Jell-O. This banging together of helmets occurs on every single play in every game and during every practice.

I grew up playing football, however the only time I wore a helmet was when I made the high school reserves team in the tenth grade. The ironic thing about helmets is that the more safer we make them, the more dangerous they have become, turning them into death-defying weapons of destruction. The sporting world only seems to link CTE to concussions, however, to me, and I’m no doctor, but the shaking of brains comparable to shaking a bowl of Jell-O, especially in children, is the real concern.

My son (and my daughter too) got his love of the sport from me, and he played two years of peewee tackle football twenty some years ago. Knowing what I know now, I would not allow him to play tackle football at such a young age.

Sincerely,

Steven H. Spring

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Where Is The Outrage?

September 27, 2017

As the list of Americans, which grows longer every day, that are outraged by NFL players kneeling during the playing of the national anthem, allegedly showing disrespect to our military, our flag and the country itself, I wonder how many are patriotic enough to have actually served their country? America’s two longest wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which are still ongoing, with no end in sight, and yet only one percent of Americans serve in the military, resulting in those who serve being sent into harm’s way over and over and over again. Some soldiers have been sent to Iraq and Afghanistan more than a dozen times. Where is the outrage?

In addition to these two wars, America is also bombing on a somewhat semi-regular basis four other countries: Pakistan, Syria, Libya and Yemen. Where is the outrage? Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every single day. Where is the outrage? We have a president who appears hell-bent on instigating a nuclear war with North Korea. Where is the outrage over a potential nuclear war that could destroy planet Earth as we know it? The president also appears more than willing to get into a war with Iran. Where is the outrage?

It appears that Russia hi-jacked our 2016 presidential election, as more and more evidence comes forth seeming every single day, yet half the country, including nearly the entire Republican Party are in denial. Where is the outrage? We have a president who seems to be more interested in tweeting all day long than running the government, a man who apparently cannot tell the truth. Where is the outrage?

I find there are far too many more important issues facing Americans and humanity world-wide to be outraged because football players are kneeling during the playing of the national anthem, in protest of social injustice. There is so much pain and suffering in this world for anyone to be outraged by players protesting the all too common murder of black men by police.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Football Players

December 26, 2015

On Christmas day, Sony Pictures released the movie “Concussion,” starring Will Smith and Alec Baldwin. Based on the 2009 GQ expose “Game Brain” by Jeanne Marie Laskas, the movie deals with not only the serious impact that concussions have on football players but also the scandalous claim that the National Football League has been doing everything possible to cover up the health issue for years.

Just days before the annual Thanksgiving marathon of three pro-football games televised from noon to midnight, former New York Giants star Frank Gifford’s family announced that he too, suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) before he passed away on August 9th of this year. CTE is a progressive degenerative disease that is found in individuals who have a history of repetitive brain trauma. Yet, not once during the twelve hours of football games played on three different networks, did I hear any of the game announcers or studio analysts speak of Mr. Gifford’s injuries.

Having spent Thanksgiving with family, it is possible that one of the announcers did address this issue and I missed it, however, for the seriousness of the issue, a lengthy discussion during each game would have been hard to miss. Moreover, not once since then have I heard anyone involved in the televising of NFL games discuss the problem. With the movie raising the issue that the NFL has been covering up the issue for years, it does not take a conspiracy buff to deduce that the league has instructed everyone involved not to address the issue.

During the past five years, the PBS television network has aired two really good documentaries regarding the seriousness of injuries received by young men while playing what has become America’s new national pastime. During the first documentary, one person interviewed, and forgive me for not being able to recall what their occupation was, but they opined that when young children play organized football, when their helmets collide, which happens on every single play not only during games but also during every single practice, that their brains are being shaken around, similar to that of shaking a bowl of Jell-O. This is shocking. While watching these two documentaries, my thought was every parent who has children playing organized football should view these programs.

When growing up, I played football all the time. However, the only time I wore a uniform was my sophomore year in high school when I played on the reserves football team. Now days, children begin playing organized football at a very young age. Concussions are a very serious issue among football players; however, I was alarmed when the gentleman referred to children’s brains being shaken like a bowl of Jell-O.

My son played a couple of years of organized football when he was in middle school. Knowing what I now know, I like to think that peer pressure among my son’s friends would not have swayed my thoughts toward letting him play a sport he too, like me loved and that I would have had the cojones to just say no.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Have The Cleveland Browns Ever Won An NFL Championship?

September 12, 2015

As the NFL kicked off its 96th season Thursday night with a game between the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers, it is rather absurd that the league will also celebrate its 50th Super Bowl at the end of the year. Did the league not have a championship game during its first fifty seasons?

Well, of course they did. It was only called the NFL Championship, which is exactly what the Super Bowl represents. And, as a matter of fact, the Cleveland Browns have won four championships. Yet, they never receive the proper credit, because they all occurred prior to the championship game being called the Super Bowl.

During the Browns first decade in the league, after winning all four All-America Football Conference championships, the team played in the championship game seven times, winning three, including a championship their first year in the league. Not only did the Browns dominate the All-America Football Conference during their first four years of existence, they continued their dominant play during their first decade in the NFL. The team won its last championship after the 1964 season.

Yet, not one football talking head on television mentions these historical feats, only that the Browns are one of only four teams that have never played in a Super Bowl. Granted, those championships were a long, long time ago, but I am old enough to remember the last one.

Steven H. Spring

Is It Legal To Sell Alcohol Only To Rich People?

September 9, 2015

An open letter to Gene Smith, Athletic Director at The Ohio State University, regarding its new policy of selling alcoholic beverages only to the wealthy elite;

September 8, 2015

Mr. Gene Smith
Director of Athletics
The Ohio State University
Room 224, St. John Arena
410 Woody Hayes Drive
Columbus, Ohio 43210-1166

Dear Gene,

I was surprised to read in last week’s Columbus Dispatch that alcohol will now be sold in Ohio Stadium. That is, only to rich folks. It was only a few years ago that alcoholic advertising was banned from all NCAA events. I guess the organization decided that, despite multi-billion dollar television contracts, it was no longer making enough money and caved in to the almighty dollar. I was also shocked to learn that alcohol was being sold to patrons in the Schottenstein Center ever since it first opened. Again, being sold only to those fans who pay top dollar for their seats.

I assume the rationale for this decision is the supposition that rich folks are much better behaved, especially when consuming alcoholic beverages. Even if true, you are punishing the masses for the behavior of only a few. I think there is no dispute that the working man and woman are far more zealous fans than their wealthy counterparts. This is why Value City Arena, for most games is a dead arena. Selling seat licenses for prime seats and seating students up in the rafters led to no home court advantage for Coach Matta and his BasketBucks. I will give you credit for moving some students down behind both benches. However, the huge eyesore of a black ribbon behind several rows of students, roping off three or four rows of prime seats is an insult to the great job that Matta has done. The reasoning given for this black ribbon is that fans in those seats might actually have to stand to watch the game.

This new policy does not affect me, as I gave up drinking some thirty-five years ago and I stopped buying alumni football tickets a decade ago not only because of the cost of a ticket but also your asinine policy of not informing alumni what game you are purchasing tickets to. I have far better things to do with $150 than waste it watching the Buckeyes beat up on Podunk U. I find it astonishing that it is much cheaper to go to a professional game than it is to a college game, played supposedly by amateurs.

College sports long ago sold its soul to the devil that Big Money is. Selling alcohol to rich people is just the latest example. The lust of money is leading to the demise of capitalism, and thus America itself. Your policy of selling alcohol only to the wealthy elite reeks of elitism. The Ohio State University should be embarrassed by this act of discrimination.

Sincerely,

Steven H. Spring
The Ohio State University, Class of ‘87

That Was Some Suspension!

That sure was some suspension served by Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston during Saturday night’s prime time game against Clemson. He had more face time than Bill Cowher, who seemingly is shown every five minutes on every television channel espousing the benefits of Time Warner Cable. Much more face time than if he had actually played the game.

Granted, what he said most likely is said many times in college and pro locker rooms throughout America, if not the world. Or in garages, for that matter. However, for a Heisman Trophy winner, playing on the number one ranked team in the country, ignorance was exhibited by his audacity to think he could jump up on a table in his school’s student union and shout something obscene, no matter how popular the phrase currently is, without the whole country hearing about it.

Winston may not have played a down, yet he was everywhere Saturday night.

Steven H. Spring
Ohio State University, Class of ‘87

Allstate Good Hands Good Deed?

As collegiate football got underway this past weekend, it did not take Allstate Insurance long to update their good hands, good deed declarations during games to assert that they have now donated $3.4 million dollars (a paltry increase of two hundred thousand dollars over the past year) to fund college general scholarships during the past ten years, it is only right that I update and repost my blog criticizing the insurance conglomerate for having the audacity to boast about such a trifling dollar amount considering all the free advertising it receives each week.

Anyone who watches college football knows all to well that the Allstate Good Hands logo is placed advantageously in a great many stadiums across the country in the middle of the netting that is raised behind the goal posts on point after touchdowns and field goal attempts in order to prevent the kicked football from going into the stands. At first glance, it appears that Allstate is doing a great deed by donating money to fund college scholarships. However, when you consider all the free publicity the company receives all season long, generosity might not be the best word to describe Allstate’s publicity stunt. How many times are these logos shown during the course of each season for every college and university stadium that allows these netting logos? How many times during the year will game announcers proclaim to its viewers that Allstate has donated $3.4 million for college scholarships? Every time the logo-laden netting is raised or the announcers make the proclamation, it is the equivalent one more free commercial for the insurance conglomerate.

I know not what a thirty-second commercial airing during a typical college football game costs, let alone that of a bowl game or the national championship playoffs, however for all the free advertising that it receives every year, Allstate should be embarrassed that it has donated only $3.4 million to fund college scholarships. Allstate should have donated at least ten times that amount, if not one hundred times more than it has before it boasts of its good deed.

Steven H. Spring
The Ohio State University, Class of ‘87