The human cost of football: Is the game worth the destruction?
I would say “No,” but then I’m not a sports fan. Apparently quite a few people are content to let players suffer from concussions and indeed do not think about it. Reid Forgrave has a memorable article (with video at the end) about the suicide (at age 24) of Zac Easter, a football player from a football family (Zac’s father was a coach). The article begins:
My Last Wishes
It’s taken me about 5 months to write all of this. Sorry for the bad grammar in a lot of spots.
I WANT MY BRAIN DONATED TO THE BRAIN BANK!! I WANT MY BRAIN DONATED TO THE SPORTS LEGACY INSTITUE A.K.A THE CONCUSSION FOUNDATION. If you go to the concussion foundation website you can see where there is a spot for donatation. I want my brain donated because I don’t know what happened to me and I know the concussions had something to do with it.
Please please please give me the cheapest burial possible. I don’t want anything fancy and I want to be cremated. Once cremated, I want my ashes spread in the timber on the side hill where I shot my 10 point buck. That is where I was happiest and that I where I want to lay. Feel free to spread my ashes around the timber if you’d like, but just remember on the side hill is where I would like most of my remains. I am truly sorry if I put you in a financial burden. I just cant live with this pain any more.
I don’t want anything expensive at my funeral or what ever it is. Please please please I beg you to choose the cheapest route and not even buy me a burial plot at a cemetary…. I also do not want a military funeral. If there are color guardsmen or anyone else at my funerial or whatever you have I will haunt you forever.
I want levi to keep playing clash of clans on my account. I am close to max have spent a lot of time playing that game. Though you think its stupid, I ask you keep playing it for me when you can and let my fellow clan mates know what happened. My phones passcode is 111111, so that’s six 1’s….
Levi gets my car, it will need a oil change and breaks/tires done her shortly. Please take care of old red. It will need cleaned out as well because I am a slob.
Thank you for being the best family in the world. I will watch over you all and please take my last wishes into consideration. Do not do something I do no want. Just remember, I don’t want a military funeral like grandpas. It is my last wishes and last rights.
I am with the lord now.
-Look, Im sorry every one for the choice I made. Its wrong and we all know it.
November 13, 2015
Zac Easter texted his girlfriend shortly before 10 A.M.
“Can you call me when you get out of class? I’m in hot water right now and idk what to do”
He typed as he drove, weaving Old Red, his cherry red 2008 Mazda3, down the wide suburban boulevards of West Des Moines. He’d already been awake for hours, since well before sunrise. At 5:40 A.M., he texted Ali an apology: “Sorry about last night.” Then he started drinking. By now he was shitfaced and driving around the suburbs. She called as soon as she got out of class, and he was slurring his words. Ali was scared. She wanted him off the road. She talked him down and into a gas-station parking lot, and then he hung up.
“Do not leave,” she texted back at 11:27 A.M.
Ali Epperson was nearly 700 miles away, at her contract-law class at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland. In football terms, Zac had outkicked his coverage: Ali was an ex-cheerleader but no vacant princess. She had a diamond stud in her left nostril and a knifing wit. They were a pair of scrappers whose jagged edges fit. Zac loved Trump; he kept a copy of Trump: The Art of the Deal in his bedroom. Ali was a budding progressive: a first-year student at a good law school who’d interned at Senator Tom Harkin’s D.C. office. They were just friends in high school; she used to cut fourth-period music class to hang with Zac. After they graduated, they became more than friends.
Sometimes he called her Winslow, her middle name, and only Winslow knew the full extent of Zac’s struggles in the five and a half years since high school: the brain tremors that felt like thunderclaps inside his skull, the sudden memory lapses in which he’d forget where he was driving or why he was walking around the hardware store, the doctors who told him his mind might be torn to pieces from all the concussions from football. She knew about the drugs and the drinking he was doing to cope. She knew about the mood swings, huge and pulverizing, the slow leaching of his hope.
“I’m not leaving,” he texted back.
He pulled into a Jimmy John’s and ate something to sober up, sending Ali Snapchats every so often to prove he wasn’t driving. Then, a couple of hours later, he texted her again: . . .
Do read the whole thing, and ask whether football is worth the cost. (The NFL clearly believes the answer is “Yes,” since they make a lot of money from it and club owners are not in danger. So the NFL with fight change, just as the auto industry fought safety standards, and for the same reason: it may save lives, but it cuts into profits.)