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George Will's False Argument Against Football
Townhall.com ^ | August 8, 2012 | Terry Jeffrey

Posted on 08/08/2012 4:58:42 AM PDT by Kaslin

Those who have convinced themselves that American football is incurably violent and shortens the life expectancy of those who play it -- I am thinking of George Will -- ought to read the study the American Journal of Cardiology published in March on the mortality of former NFL players.

Men who played in the NFL for at least five years over a period of three decades, the study demonstrated, had a lower mortality rate than the general population of American males.

However, in The Washington Post on Sunday, George Will wrote: "Various unsurprising studies indicate high early mortality rates among linemen resulting from cardiovascular disease. For all players who play five or more years, life expectancy is less than 60; for linemen it is much less."

The definitive study says otherwise.

A group of researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health -- including Sherry L. Baron, M.D., Misty J. Hein, Ph.D., Everett Lehman and Christine Gersic -- conducted a study of mortality among 3,439 men who had played at least five years in the NFL between 1959 and 1988. Their report appeared in Volume 109, Issue 6 of the American Journal of Cardiology.

"Overall," the study concluded, "retired NFL players from the 1959 through the 1988 seasons showed decreased all-cause and (cardiovascular disease) mortalities compared to a referent United States population of men."

How could this be? How could men who most likely played four years of high-school football and then four years of college football before they even stepped foot on an NFL field -- where they would play for at least another five years -- end up having a lower mortality rate than men who did not play in the NFL?

"Players' overall decreased mortality risk is likely explained by several factors," said the researchers.

For one, they are less likely to smoke. For another: "Players' body composition and high fitness levels likely contribute to their lower than expected overall mortality compared to the general United States population, especially given their increased size."

The NIOSH study said that in a group of 3,439 American male peers of the NFL veterans', 625.2 would have been expected to die by the end of 2007. Among the actual 3,439 NFL veterans, only 334 had died.

By a ratio of 126-to-186.2, NFL veterans were also less likely than their peers to die specifically of cardiovascular disease.

But what about Will's claims that "linemen" who play more than five years have a life expectancy "much less" than 60 and that there are "high early mortality rates among linemen resulting from cardiovascular disease"?

The NIOSH study divided the NFL players into three rough categories: 1) punters, kickers, quarterbacks, wide receivers and defensive backs, 2) halfbacks, fullbacks, linebackers, offensive ends and tight ends, and 3) offensive and defensive linemen. It discovered that all three categories -- including offensive and defensive linemen -- had overall mortality rates lower than the general population.

What the study did find is that defensive linemen -- but not offensive linemen -- had a higher mortality rate from cardiovascular disease in particular than their peers in the general population. This held true even when the data were controlled for body mass index and ethnicity, factors that correlate in the population with a higher mortality rate from cardiovascular disease.

In his column, Will pointed to three former NFL players -- Ray Easterling, Dave Duerson and Junior Seau -- who committed suicide in the past two years. Brain tissue from Easterling and Duerson, Will notes, showed evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Seau's brain tissue is being studied. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says CTE is caused "by repetitive blows to the head over a long period of time."

The NIOSH study indicated that NFL alumni are less likely to commit suicide than others. Whereas 21.8 men would have killed themselves in the general population, only nine NFL veterans did.

But the question about brain injury among NFL players is a serious one. In the NIOSH study, 12 of 3,439 players died of diseases of the nervous system and sense organs. Only 9.7 men in the general population would have died of these causes. NIOSH soon will complete a study examining in greater detail the mortality in this small group of former NFL players.

"Now, however," Will wrote, "accumulating evidence about new understandings of the human body -- the brain, especially, but not exclusively -- compel the conclusion that football is a mistake because the body is not built to absorb, and cannot be adequately modified by training or protected by equipment to absorb, the game's kinetic energies."

On ABC's "This Week," he said this was true "even further down to high school."

Will referred to football fans as "a tribe not known for savoring nuance." But Will's own column needed more of it.

Football provides its greatest service not to those who watch it but to those who play. The vast majority of football players are not professionals but amateurs -- including the 1,108,441 high-school boys who, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations, played in 2010 alone.

The rules can and should protect high-school boys from unreasonable risk of injury. But no scholastic activity could ever replace what they learn about hard work, perseverance, teamwork and courage from playing America's greatest game.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: football; georgewill; lamestreammedia; mortalityrates

1 posted on 08/08/2012 4:58:52 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

George Will proving once again that he’s a RINO wimp—As if further evidence was needed.


2 posted on 08/08/2012 5:03:29 AM PDT by Arm_Bears (Re-distribute my work ethic, not my wealth.)
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To: Kaslin

another example of the MSMs (female part)ification of America. as prescribed by the _resident, Dhmmicrats, and RINOs in general...and that means YOU TOO Justice Roberts, and all the Beltway buttwipes and their (female part)whipping wives.


3 posted on 08/08/2012 5:08:12 AM PDT by Vaquero (Don't pick a fight with an old guy. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.)
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To: Kaslin

They are coming for your guns and football. It is all part of the plan to make you a sheeple.


4 posted on 08/08/2012 5:11:29 AM PDT by bmwcyle (Corollary - Electing the same person over and over and expecting a different outcome is insanity)
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To: Kaslin

99 Reasons Why Baseball is Better Than Football - Thomas Boswell

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/563814/posts


5 posted on 08/08/2012 5:14:54 AM PDT by GreenLanternCorps ("Barack Obama" is Swahili for "Jimmy Carter".)
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To: Arm_Bears

he’s partisan...a baseball fanatic.


6 posted on 08/08/2012 5:20:44 AM PDT by TurboZamboni (Looting the future to bribe the present)
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To: Kaslin

My son plays college football (Division 1 school), he’s senior this year....

He’s had three concussions. Laughingly, the worst one occurred in the locker room when the guys were “horsing” around, tripped, hit his head, split his scalp wide open.....rushed to the emergency room....

I’ve seen the good, bad and other in football as he’s grown up....

George Will is correct from one standpoint, their bodies take tremendous abuse, but unlike his hypothesis, they heal....

All sports damage the body when performed at a high level of competition. Check out a runners knees, hips and ankles. Or look at a baseball pitchers shoulder....

George Will’s solution is to perhaps to have sanctioned NCAA pillow fighting competition....

What a wimp!


7 posted on 08/08/2012 5:22:34 AM PDT by nevergore ("It could be that the purpose of my life is simply to serve as a warning to others.")
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To: Kaslin

It doesn’t take a medical genius to recognize that beating a body takes in pro football isn’t good. Now, if an adult is willing to do that to himself, that’s his business. I just hope there are more safety restrictions in highschool games.
One person here suggested the problem with all the injuries may be the amount of safety gear. It encourages players into using themselves as missiles.

Personally, I won’t watch. It’s too much of a blood sport for my tastes. Give me a baseball games or nascar. Now those are REAL all Amerixan sports.


8 posted on 08/08/2012 5:24:19 AM PDT by LevinFan
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To: nevergore

If anyone actually reads what Will wrote he is somewhere between advocating the end of football and simply, as I have been saying for some time, acknowledging that it will not survive societal changes as is.


9 posted on 08/08/2012 5:24:56 AM PDT by John W (Viva Cristo Rey!)
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To: John W

The NFL game has already changed for the worse. First we were reviewing plays to make sure “they got the calls right”. Now we review plays to second-guess the level of violence in a particular hit. If found to be excessive the player is punished. How can this be good for the game?

It’s gotten to the point where cornerbacks refuse to tackle and safeties are pulling up on hits. In the open field the game is turning into a form of the game that we used to refer to as “rough touch”. Boring! May as well watch Soccer.


10 posted on 08/08/2012 5:40:36 AM PDT by Tallguy (It's all 'Fun and Games' until somebody loses an eye!)
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To: Kaslin

George Will is a known fan of baseball and has written books on baseball, not just politics. This would be like the Chairman of GM writing about the problems at Ford.


11 posted on 08/08/2012 5:52:20 AM PDT by jps098
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To: John W
George Will hasn't been relevant for years....
12 posted on 08/08/2012 6:53:27 AM PDT by nevergore ("It could be that the purpose of my life is simply to serve as a warning to others.")
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To: Tallguy

I don’t want any pro football player to have lasting injuries for my amusement.However,pro football is getting
so bad that the fans will simply stop watching.


13 posted on 08/08/2012 6:55:22 AM PDT by Dr. Ursus
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To: Dr. Ursus

TV eventually destroyed boxing. Now you have MMA and just look at how short the ‘careers’ are there. The NFL is committing suicide. So what will happen? Initially the college game will benefit. But if football goes away then some other game (Hockey?) will rise. Then again, Hockey is battling with how to deal with “concussion syndrome”, too.


14 posted on 08/08/2012 7:02:18 AM PDT by Tallguy (It's all 'Fun and Games' until somebody loses an eye!)
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To: Tallguy

I’d see some hockey hits on sports center and marvel that the player was killed or paralyzed.


15 posted on 08/08/2012 7:10:51 AM PDT by Dr. Ursus
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To: Kaslin

Retired players are still going to get a multi-billion dollar settlement.


16 posted on 08/08/2012 7:37:59 AM PDT by zeestephen
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To: TurboZamboni

Baseball is a pastoral game; football is a game of industrial organization. Will longs for an America wherein the bowtie is again fashionable. It’s the equipment which causes the injuries; rugby and Aussie rules players don’t suffer the trauma.


17 posted on 08/08/2012 7:38:06 AM PDT by steve8714 (Romney will end up with someone even whiter and more boring than himself as VEEP.)
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To: TurboZamboni

Baseball is a pastoral game; football is a game of industrial organization. Will longs for an America wherein the bowtie is again fashionable. It’s the equipment which causes the injuries; rugby and Aussie rules players don’t suffer the trauma.


18 posted on 08/08/2012 7:38:13 AM PDT by steve8714 (Romney will end up with someone even whiter and more boring than himself as VEEP.)
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To: TurboZamboni

Baseball is a pastoral game; football is a game of industrial organization. Will longs for an America wherein the bowtie is again fashionable. It’s the equipment which causes the injuries; rugby and Aussie rules players don’t suffer the trauma.


19 posted on 08/08/2012 7:38:23 AM PDT by steve8714 (Romney will end up with someone even whiter and more boring than himself as VEEP.)
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To: steve8714
Will longs for an America wherein the bowtie is again fashionable.

LOL! Yeah, George Will as the latter-day Connie Mack. Wearing a suit & bow-tie while managing from the dug-out!

20 posted on 08/08/2012 8:17:26 AM PDT by Tallguy (It's all 'Fun and Games' until somebody loses an eye!)
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To: steve8714

George Carlin - Football vs Baseball

Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game.
Football is a twentieth-century technological struggle.

Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park.The baseball park!
Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field or War Memorial Stadium.

Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.
Football begins in the fall, when everything’s dying.

In football you wear a helmet.
In baseball you wear a cap.

Football is concerned with downs - what down is it?
Baseball is concerned with ups - who’s up?

In football you receive a penalty.
In baseball you make an error.

In football the specialist comes in to kick.
In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.

Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting and unnecessary roughness.
Baseball has the sacrifice.

Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog...
In baseball, if it rains, we don’t go out to play.

Baseball has the seventh inning stretch.
Football has the two minute warning.

Baseball has no time limit: we don’t know when it’s gonna end - might have extra innings.
Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we’ve got to go to sudden death.

In baseball, during the game, in the stands, there’s kind of a picnic feeling; emotions may run high or low, but there’s not too much unpleasantness.
In football, during the game in the stands, you can be sure that at least twenty-seven times you’re capable of taking the life of a fellow human being.

And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different:

In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line.

In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! - I hope I’ll be safe at home!


21 posted on 08/08/2012 8:21:14 AM PDT by dfwgator (FUJR (not you, Jim))
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To: Kaslin
Will referred to football fans as "a tribe not known for savoring nuance."

I think that hits the old nail on the head. Those fans love the bang-bang of football and little else. One could substitute water buffalo on the lines and no one would notice the difference.

22 posted on 08/08/2012 9:43:04 AM PDT by OldPossum
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To: Kaslin
The version of George Will's column which appeared in our morning paper did have a cute line in it:

Football combines two of modern society's worse traits - violence punctuated by committee meetings (huddles).

Humorous in a bow-tie wearing, snobby, elitist, Ivy League way.

23 posted on 08/08/2012 10:46:56 AM PDT by CommerceComet (Obama vs. Romney - clear evidence that our nation has been judged by God and found wanting.)
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To: Tallguy

The league has reviewed game tape to assess fines on players for extreme illegal hits for a long time, like decades. It’s good for the game because it keeps dirty play from going unpunished just because the ref missed it.

I haven’t seen anybody refuse to tackle or pulling up. Well Deion Sanders but he just never liked to hit people, made him a better cover guy.

Actually “rough touch” is exactly what they’re trying to get out of the game. A lot of defensive backs have lost the art of the actual tackle, instead turning themselves into missiles under the theory of if you hit a guy really hard he’ll fall. Not only does it cause injuries, it’s a bad way to play the game as guys can dodge you more easily and then you’re laying on the ground and they’re running free. Tackling involves wrapping your arms around a guy and bringing him down, it needs to get back in the game.


24 posted on 08/08/2012 10:56:25 AM PDT by discostu (Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.)
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To: Tallguy

TV didn’t kill boxing. Don King and 100 “championship” belts killed boxing. The game became too corrupted with too much theater. Every fighter was a champion somewhere, vast negotiations would go into how the purse would be divided, and there was the vast dreg of nobodies getting paid to lose just to make sure “champions” got to have sexy records like 30-2 with 21 knockouts. The only contribution TV had in that was that it allowed people to see enough matches to figure out there must be some funny business for all these “champions” to always have these nearly undefeated records, and to notice there were 2 dozen “heavy weight champions of the world”. Boxing killed boxing, TV just showed us why it was already dead.


25 posted on 08/08/2012 11:02:49 AM PDT by discostu (Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.)
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To: discostu

When the US Men fail to win a single medal in Boxing at the Olympics, you know boxing is dead.


26 posted on 08/08/2012 11:06:03 AM PDT by dfwgator (FUJR (not you, Jim))
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To: dfwgator; discostu

Boxing is far from dead. The amateur game in the US is hurting because there are so many opportunities, thus the poor performance at the Olympics.

Top matches regularly make 50-100 million on pay per view. Showtime, Fox Sports, HBO, and ESPN have regular televised matches.

While the judging is still suspect, I posit that it’s no more than in the past.

There is an influx of new fighters from eastern europe, asia, and even the middle east, most of them training and fighting in the US.

I do agree that there are too many organization granting belts, that’s the thing that needs changing and some improvement of judging.


27 posted on 08/08/2012 11:23:47 AM PDT by morphing libertarian
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To: discostu
I haven’t seen anybody refuse to tackle or pulling up. Well Deion Sanders but he just never liked to hit people, made him a better cover guy.

You obviously weren't watching the Philadelphia Eagles last year. They didn't have a corner on the team that wanted to tackle. Safety play was even worse. It was so bad that teams were just running the ball more because once they popped through, the play was going for a big gainer.

Now maybe that wasn't leage-wide, I'll admit. But ever since the league liberalized the passing & pass-blocking rules, receivers have gotten taller/rangier and corners have gotten lighter and less physical. Consequently it's more like a track meet than a football game.

As far as reviewing the hits... I'd be OK with it if a penalty were also called, triggering the league review. I'm just sick of reading that this guy or that got suspended/fined for a play that wasn't even worthy of a penalty during the game.

Thanks for the good points.

28 posted on 08/08/2012 11:45:05 AM PDT by Tallguy (It's all 'Fun and Games' until somebody loses an eye!)
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To: Kaslin

How long has it been since anybody cared what limp-wristed RINO wimp Will said about anything?


29 posted on 08/08/2012 11:50:23 AM PDT by ozzymandus
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To: morphing libertarian

I don’t know if any sentence with the word “regularly” really applies to top matches of boxing given how irregularly they happen. Sure the once every 2 or 3 years the egos manage to allow a marquee match up to occur it gets a huge audience. But what about between then? Yeah you’ll get some small action periodically, I know ESPN used to have Friday Night Fights but I can’t remember the last time I saw a promo for that, but all that stuff features guys only the most ardent fan has heard of boxing 3 rounds. The guys people have heard of, they guys with at least one federation’s championship belt, box as rarely as possible, which is incredibly rarely these days when the agents manage to make sure both guys get in excess of 20 million bucks win or lose.

The real crookedness of boxing isn’t in the judging, it’s in the creation of the matches. It’s in deciding that this boxer is on the championship track, so he’s gonna get a bunch of easy matches to build that unreasonable record of 3 dozen wins and a few losses, he’s going to be get the publicity, and eventually he gets a shot at one of the many titles with of course a guaranteed purse of many millions even if he gets clobbered in the first minute.

What really needs to change is for boxing to develop a league and a season like any other sport. Doesn’t necessarily need to be annual like other sports, boxing is pretty rough on the body, but some way to be able to say “these are our boxers, this is their schedule for fighting each other, this is how they will be eliminated from championship contention, this is the date the championship fight will happen, and 6 months later we start the whole thing all over and the champ has to box the schedule just like everybody else”. That would eliminate where the corruption in boxing really is, the scheduling.


30 posted on 08/08/2012 12:32:20 PM PDT by discostu (Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.)
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To: Tallguy

Were they not tackling because of the rules or their own predisposition. Again we gotta look at Deion, not everybody is good enough at covering to avoid contact as much as he did. And of course there’s the fondness for the hit that really isn’t a tackle, lots of guys in the league have that issue.

You need to review plays where the flag wasn’t thrown. Otherwise you get incidents where guys do something really vicious that the refs missed and the cameras didn’t. Nobody wants an eye gouger getting tons of replays on Sports Center and getting no punishment because the refs were looking the wrong way. It’s not usually that the play wasn’t worthy of a penalty, it’s that no zebras noticed. It happens, in all sports the refs are way out numbers, the NFL has 8 refs and 22 players on the field at one time, there’s no way the refs are seeing everything.


31 posted on 08/08/2012 12:37:59 PM PDT by discostu (Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.)
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To: discostu

ESPN has Friday Night Fights most of the year and underway now.

The judging plays into the push for a particular fighter to move up.

Need one international and national governing body and franchises in each state that wants their fights licensed.

You can watch most levels of boxing in the US. In the west Fox Sports covers starters. ESPN has new pros and a main event.

I still disagree to the comment that boxing is dead.

Been following since the 50s and looks very much alive to me.


32 posted on 08/08/2012 12:39:49 PM PDT by morphing libertarian
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To: morphing libertarian

Wow I watch a bunch of ESPN talk shows and can’t remember the last time I saw any kind of promo for FNF, really thought it had been gone for years.

Obviously boxing isn’t gone completely we still have the big fights. But really compare the audience the normal events get with just about anybody else. Even the small time mixed martial arts leagues get more viewers. The audience is gone. And it’s a shame, because at its best boxing is one of the purest sports, just dude vs dude, not a lot of rules, very little equipment. But it’s a sideline sport now, and it sidelined itself. Somebody should have shot Don King in the head in the 80s.


33 posted on 08/08/2012 12:52:13 PM PDT by discostu (Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.)
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To: discostu

Teddy Atlas is the color commentator for ESPN and he is also working Olympic boxing. Mosley is filling in for him.

I think Atlas once went to Tyson with a gun and told him to stay away from his daughter. He told that story on FNF a few months ago.

FNF has good coverage of boxing news between fights. Informative.

I agree with your comments about other sports and their popularity, but boxing is far from dead.

Surprised one of the boxers who signed those rip-off contracts with King, didn’t do a job on him. Also, I notice many of his fights used to have very bad decisions. I think he has lost his influence, but he appears with fighters now and then on Showtime.

BTW King talks like a conservative and always waves an American flag.


34 posted on 08/08/2012 1:40:21 PM PDT by morphing libertarian
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