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Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

My senior year in high school, our football team was undefeated. I went to every game.
I wore my band jacket, which I'd earned after only a freshman year's participation. 
I replaced the marching band letters with: “Madison High Literary Magazine.” 
I was the editor. Drove up our sales rate by flogging it at football games. The jacket made folks laugh. And opened their wallets. Result: I liked high school football. 
But I never watched any other team.

Years later, I married a man who became a neurologist. 
We had two sons. In each delivery room, the staff made jokes about what a football player he’d grow up to be.
Alex always said, “Not my son.”
Why? My cousin had lost pain-free knees from high school football, but that seemed a fluke.
“They’ll end up punch-drunk,” Alex said. “It’s well known that people who get hit a lot, like in football, end up with brain damage.”
Well known? He said this long before the book or movie Concussion came out. 

I kept hearing more and more about brain-damaged football players.
Lost souls. The damage showed up as violence, dementia, battered families. 
The sort of damage that masqueraded as willful, a failure of character.
You could only see the cause of the damage with an autopsy. 
No chance to tell the guy his problems were medical. 
No chance for families to make peace.

Until this got in the news, I had never cared much about football (except for those few glorious years when it helped me sell literary magazines).
I kept thinking about my own sons. No, they didn't play football. But we did take them to their hockey practices and games as a family.  We cheered their successes. Never once thought we were setting them up for a lifetime of misery.
Kept thinking about all those football parents, doing the same.
And then -- the damage.
Don’t wanna hear about football anymore.

For April 15, write a poem about something that you have no interest in.


2 responses to “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy”

  1. Never been interested in football either. Went to all the high school football games because like you I was in the marching band. Never went to a college football game and surely don’t watch them on TV. Good response to the prompt.


    • Thanks, Luanne. I started to do all sports, but I am not wholly indifferent to hockey since both my sons played. So I’ve learned the rules at least. But that made me think of all those families who took their kids to pee wee football, and,,, ? Horrible.

      Liked by 1 person

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