The Non-Football Family

BonBon Break

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Why My Son Wont Play Football by Jessica Vealitzek

“If ten percent of mothers in this country would begin to perceive football as a dangerous sport, that is the end of football.”

These words were spoken by an NFL team doctor responding to arguments that playing football can cause brain damage. The NFL doctor didn’t see it that way; he was more concerned about that ten percent and the ruin of his industry.

And so the NFL lied to us for years. They refused to look at the evidence—the autopsied brains of former NFL players—and they told us, they told their own players, that helmets work, that they prevent brain damage. They told us that the players, and therefore our children, were safe.

But the connection between repeated blows to the head and brain injury is clear. And the connection between NFL players and brain damage has become clear. What’s not yet clear, apparently due to lack of study, is the effect of youth football on children.   Are you part of the 10%?

Jessica VABOUT JESSICA: Jessica grew up in the Midwest, in a middle-class Chicago suburb, the middle child of a C.P.A. with the heart of a literature professor and a homemaker with the mind of an entrepreneur. Her family told stories around the dinner table. She listened. After college (in the Midwest), and a move to another city (in the Midwest), she wrote for money, first as an exhibit writer and then as a political communications director. Then she moved back to her hometown, had children, and finally did what she’d always wanted to do: sit in a room and write for free. Her debut novel, The Rooms Are Filled, will be published in April 2014. It is loosely based on one of her family’s stories.

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