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Is Football the New Smoking?

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Is Junior Seau's suicide indication that football exceeds the bounds of human decency?
Is Junior Seau's suicide indication that football exceeds the bounds of human decency?

There's a weird cultural meme cropping up in outskirts of the chattering class, and it just won't go away. It's a move to abolish... football.


George Will, of all people, has taken up that cause, and drawn a response by Daniel J. Flynn at The American Spectator. Will's case is simple: football is too much for the human body, and the proof is in the suicides.

"Football's in trouble for two reasons," George Will explained in the wake of Seau's suicide on ABC's This Week. "First of all, the human body is not built for the violence that is inherent in football at the highest level. Second, people are going to watch football differently from now on, because they're going to feel a little bit like the spectators in the Coliseum in Rome, watching people sacrificed for their entertainment, with a kind of violence that is unseemly -- third suicide in 15 months."

Will also claims that football players' life expectancies are lower, on average, that other folks.'

Flynn rebuts both of these claims-- he says there are more suicides in baseball than football, and that the life expectancy issue is simply false.

A "study commissioned by the NFL Players Association and conducted by federal researchers found that athletes who lasted five or more years in the league between 1959 and 1993 lived longer than the average American male. As USA Today reported in May, "A records-based study of retired players conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) concludes that they have a much lower death rate than men in the general population, contrasting the notion that football players don't live as long."

Who would have believed that there are health benefits to running back-and-forth for four quarters on a hundred yard field?

"Facts are stubborn things," John Adams reflected. More stubborn are prejudices.

Of course here at Frogs O' War football is strictly OK. But are we on the wrong side of history here?