Saturday, June 9, 2012

Please Stop Telling David Haugh How to Raise His Kids

Last week, David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune continued the debate over injuries in football in the wake of Junior Seau's death. You can read Haugh's column here. It's mostly just an ode to all of the good football does for kids, borne out of Haugh's own experience playing the game in school. And that's fine; we here at The Left Field Line unequivocally believe that Sports Are Good (or at least can be). I'm suspicious that football provides Haugh's stated benefits in a way that other team sports (or hell, other group activities) do not, and Haugh is WAY too blase about balancing those benefits against the risks, but still: football does some good things. So stated, so resolved.

Here's the problem: "I won't tell you how to raise your kid if you won't tell me how to raise mine." We've touched on this before, but that's a rhetorical dodge so big and obvious that anytime you see someone use it, you should immediately question everything else they've said on the subject.

Kurt Warner, Troy Aikman, Bart Scott, Drew Brees- they were all only talking about how they were going to raise their kids. None of them said that anyone else was wrong for coming to a different conclusion. None of them said kids shouldn't be allowed to play football, or that parents should be condemned for letting them do so. They were speaking only of choices they would make in their own life, for their own family. David Haugh's parental authority is perfectly intact.

In a previous post, I explained why guys like Haugh are feeling nonetheless threatened. But that doesn't make Haugh's argument any stronger. The issue here is: what should we do about injuries in football? And Haugh's just plain not addressing that. That's becoming a pattern in this debate; there's a sizeable group of people who don't really want to talk about injuries or figure out anyway of handling the injuries, they just want to shout, "Stop telling me what to do!"

(Haugh, at least, also spends some time talking about the benefits of football, but that's not any more on point. We all agree that football has its rewards, we're just trying to figure out the risks.)

That's a problem, because this is an important issue. The way that the football community addresses it is going to decide the future of the sport. The last thing we need is the distraction of hollow, quasi-libertarian catcalls.

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