Recognition of the reality of CTE and our Jewish conscience
Four Januarys ago, Civia and I were in Israel for the occasion of our Israeli nephew’s Bar Mitzvah. That visit intersected with a Chiefs’ playoff game, against the Colts. With the eight-hour time difference, the game began, Israel-time, at 11 pm. I figured I’d sleep a few hours, then wake up for the 2nd half. Everything went according to plan, except for the Chief’s blowing a huge half-time lead. Fast forward four years. History repeats itself. Not merely the blowing of a big lead; but, more precisely, the reason was an offense hobbled by losing its key player to injury. About last Saturday’s loss, wouldn’t you agree that the Chiefs could have put at least three more points on the board, if they hadn’t lost Kelce?
“Et haht’a’ih a’nee maz’keer ha’yom” – I must come clean, says Pharoah’s cup-bearer, having forgotten about Joseph, who has the ability to interpret Pharoah’s dreams. Here’s my admission: Ever since I saw the film, “Concussion,” I’ve felt a bit guilty about being a football fan. Add to that guilty feeling the recent finding that, out of 111 players’ brains examined after death, 110(!) showed clear evidence of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). Folks, CTE is the lion in the coliseum. The only difference is that it takes a few years for the lion to eat the gladiator. But, I said to myself, football is football. I can look the other way. Is ethically flawed? Who am I to make such a judgment? I will say this, though: the game has developed a fundamental flaw: injuries — which are usually a matter of chance – have become an outsized factor in determining the outcome of any given game. It’s a sense I’ve had for a number of years – a sense corroborated by my own team in a crucial game, once again.