Football and Brain Damage, or How American Masculinity Ravages Men’s Bodies

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12 Responses

  1. Real men don’t wear pads or helmets. The pad less game rugby union that originated in the UK and is played in most of the ex-commonwealth countries, has undergone a some changes to the rules to prevent deaths on the playing field from broken necks and concussion. Rugby league, that evolved out of rugby union, is a much less contact orientated game. There are less damaging alternatives or even more damaging.

  2. Letta says:

    Readers might also enjoy the recent Roundtable elsewhere on The Society Pages, “Concussions and Consequences”

  3. amanda says:

    thanks for sharing the roundatable! Great points made by all. A note on the “choices” players make…the men who make it pro are so far into the game for so long, that their “choice” to continue the brutality is abrely even their own. Probably they’ve spent so much time being encouraged by authority figures–parents, peers, coaches etc.–before they even get into high school that the choice is already made for them. And the rewards, even early on, are great. I think this is why we see such high rates of eating disorder among male wrestlers (I’m talking hs wrestling, not WWF style). When you need to make weight, and everyone congratulates you for doing it, for working out as hard as you can without eating, and the perseverence it takes to lose the weight, it no longer seems like a disorder. It just is the right thing to do. And when yu keep to an unhealthy weight as your parents and friends encourage it, then again, ou end up in dangerous territory. So my new question is how do we get the adults in these children’s lives to stop their complicity, to see the damage long term that their actions may be causing? And also, how do we remove the dangerous elements from masculinity at a cultural level?

  4. tmiddleton says:

    I completely agree that something needs to give when it comes to America’s favorite sport, and I think that the change has already begun. Many high schools now require their athletes to be impact tested before the start of the season. This is a test that can be used to compare brain function before and after a head injury for early identification of concussions. Also, while I have no specific evidence to support this, it has been my experience that most coaches nowadays take injuries more seriously than they did in my parents’ day. Never once have I or anyone that I have talked to on the subject been pressured to continue playing after an injury, no matter how trivial. My father, however experienced coaches that had a “rub some dirt on it” attitude. I am hopeful that as more awareness is raised, people will be more cautious when it comes to sport injuries, and perhaps we will move away from the more dangerous sports as a nation.

  5. amanda says:

    I’ve never been a sports participant so I cannot speak to current coaching trends, but I imagine there is variation by locale. Where high school teams form the crux of a town identity, I’d imagine that coaching is more intense; or in places where students aim towards football scholarships and professional careers, again I think it would be more intense. I hope that the national attention being raised on this topic will increase awareness about the dangers and cause coaches, and parents, to think more carefully about their children’s participation and safety.
    My mom played softball in high school and has a story about coaching. (I was surprised because I didn’t think of softball as aa particularly dangerous sport, and especially since it was a women’s team, this surprised me.) She was a pitcher and during a game, shattered the bones in her hand. The coach taped her hand into a claw like shaped so she could grasp the ball, and kept her pitching until the end of the game. Unbelievable. This may be one arena where our litigious society prevents these tpes of abuses–fear of a lawsuit is a big deal, especially in public school districts.

  6. Lesley says:

    I agree that something needs to change, but I believe it needs to be a cultural change. The patriarchal practices and the views on what masculinity is needs to be modified in order to change the stereotypes that is associated with gender to prevent the unhealthy lifestyles football players face. Boys are socialized from a young age to be aggressive and competitive in order to “be a man”, from their family and peers, and to not recognize pain and to hide it, because pain is associated with weakness and is not “manly”. Instead, boys should be taught that pain can be expressed without losing their definition of masculinity. I agree that something has to change, because hiding pain isn’t healthy, because then they will not be able to seek treatment.

  7. Thanks for citing my work Amanda!

  1. 16th November 2012
  2. 16th November 2012

    […] Sociological Images. Soc Images took on gender in many forms this week, from “Gender in the Hidden Curriculum” to an exploration of American masculinity and Bronies and, of course, reactions to Honda’s new lady-mobile. For another look at masculinity, check out Sociological Lens’s piece on American sport and the construction of “maleness” here. […]

  3. 11th December 2012

    […] Football and American Masulinity […]

  4. 19th May 2014

    […] known to be a dangerous sport with long-term damaging effects to brains and bodies. In fact, here is a sociological analysis of how masculinity hurts men (and their bodies) via Football. No doubt, […]

  5. 11th August 2014

    […], […]

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