George V. Reilly

Football and Brain Damage

Football, dogfighting, and brain damage

In Football, dog­fight­ing, and brain damage, Malcolm Gladwell writes of the rather startling findings concerning brain damage that American foot­ballers sustain over their careers.

The constant butting of heads leads to an enormously high rate of chronic traumatic en­cephalopa­thy (C.T.E.), which has symptoms like Alzheimer’s. It’s not just the con­cus­sions that cause it, but all the sub­con­cus­sive contact. It’s almost as dangerous to one’s long-term health as boxing.

I grew up hating rugby and trans­ferred that hatred to American football. I have no time for the game, which I find violent and repellent, nor for the jock culture that surrounds it.

Regardless of my feelings about football, Gladwell’s article (as so many New Yorker pieces do) makes for compelling reading. Though I found the di­gres­sions about dog­fight­ing to be strained and irrelevant.

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