Imagine February, 2067. It’s the 101st Super Bowl; the pregame shows share clips of Lady Gaga’s spectacular 2017 half-time show (right in there with the other ancient notables like the Rolling Stones, Beyonce, and Michael Jackson), Super Bowl commercials vie to be in all the day-after highlights reels; reporters struggle to come up with anything at all to report during the the week before. There will still be money to be made; hype to be inflated; balls to be deflated (but no, they probably don’t do that anymore).
Or do they not do any of this anymore? Is football a thing of the distant past, on the scrap heap of brutal contests like the Gladiators vs. the Lions, Hamilton-style duels, boxing. We can’t properly call football a blood sport because the blood isn’t visible – the damage in contained by the skulls of men who crash into other men because they have certain skills of speed and coordination that make them ideal contestants, which makes them an unlucky sort of heroes. These men later may find themselves prone to progressive dementia, depression, rage episodes, erratic behavior. It is like agreeing to greatly increase the risk of the kind of traits that come with Alzheimer’s Disease, but having fun and glory while doing it. Would you take that bet? Would you let your kids take that bet?
One year, do the people who glory in the Super Bowl notice the existence of CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, and call a halt? Seems unlikely. Do they turn it into a milder game without the big hits? Also seems unlikely. Or do fans beat them to it and simply drift, unable to explain to their kids why they aren’t allowed to play football and yet their parents still get to watch the big men do it? Am I right that this seems a little more likely? Would we, after all, sit in the Coliseum today to watch the lions do in the gladiators? I may not want to know the answer to that.
In the meantime. amid the glitter and cables, we can enjoy that Lady Gaga featured our aspirations that This Land is Your Land for everyone who was Born This Way or that. I sure hope whatever form The Game takes in another 50 years, no one scraps that.
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Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)
is a progressive degenerative disease found in people who have had a severe blow or repeated blows to the head. The disease was previously called dementia pugilistica (DP), i.e. “punch-drunk,” as it was initially found in those with a history of boxing. CTE has been most commonly found in professional athletes participating in American football, rugby, ice hockey, boxing, professional wrestling, stunt performing, bull riding, rodeo, Association football and other contact sports who have experienced repeated concussions or other brain trauma. Its presence in domestic violence is also being investigated. It can affect high school athletes, especially American football players, following few years of activity. It is a form of tauopathy.