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    CopyEditorMar 10, 2010 at 2:03 am

    I’m frankly a bit appalled by John’s argument this week. To say that Muhammad Ali knew the extent of the brain trauma he was subjecting himself to is frankly incorrect. There has only recently been a new slew of evidence in terms of neuroscience revealing just how devastating impact in professional contact sports can be. Many linemen in football experience the equivalent of multiple head-on car crashes not only during each game, but each day of practice, as well. A great essay for those interested in the subject is Malcolm Gladwell’s piece in The New Yorker, “Offensive Play: Football, Dog-Fighting, and Brain Damage,” available at the following link:

    For Baranowski to argue that professional athletes know what they are getting into and deserve the risk of bodily harm as part of their avocation as athletes is demeaning, as though athletes are almost completely inhuman. It also completely discounts the fact that college, high school and even pre-adolescent athletes have imitated from time immemorial their favorite athletes. And all this hand-wringing about ‘tradition’ comes from a columnist who earlier this year subjected readers, of whom I doubt there were many, to a several-thousand-word diatribe about the introduction of the hockey mask? I note not only a callousness toward humans – which, in concert with a discussion on the lower-class, inner-city origins of a majority of football players, smacks of elitism at the least and border-line racism at worst – but hypocrisy, as well.

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