It's become clear in recent years that playing professional football is not good for you. In fact it pretty much kills you. The average NFL player will die before sixty and lose 2-3 years of life for every year in the NFL and has vastly multiplied chance at having dementia. Now we have the first evidence, albiet only anecdotal, that college football does esentially the same thing. A 21-year-old kid named Owen Thomas who played I-AA football at the University of Pennsylvania killed himself last year after what was described as a sudden change in mood and behavior. He had no prior history of depression. An autopsy now shows that he had the early stages of a type of dementia caused by trauma from playing football and which is associated with depression.
There's no way to say that "football killed him" or even contributed to his depression and suicide, but if a 21 year old kid playing second teir college football (who had never had a concussion, by the way) can have brain trauma from football (and as I understand it this is only diagnosed on autopsy, so there is no way to know whether this is the exception or the rule) it suggests to me that football is really not safe at any level past high-school. As fans who fund college football (and most of us pro football as well) what moral responsiblity do we bear in all of this?
Stumbled upon this story and thought it was just too crazy to believe. I understand that fans sometimes like to push the envelope a bit to rattle opponents - see chants at Yost, most of MSU's cheering sections, stories you hear about the SEC - but this seems more mean-spirited than anything else. Plus, it's squash people! As the NCAA commercials keep telling me, these players are going to go pro in something other than sports.