Do-gooders target the NFL — without the facts 

Super Bowl XLIV is now history, but there’s one final pro football story for the 2009 season that must be written. This one is about do-gooders targeting the National Football League.

The phenomenon I call “do-gooderism” is running rampant. Do-gooders are everywhere, and the problem with them is that they don’t know when to stop doing good.

Do-gooders want to poke their noses into the business of what kind of food we eat. They’re obsessed about our health care, to the point that they support Congress passing a health care bill that would compel Americans to buy health insurance even if they don’t want it. This is a flagrant violation of individual liberty and the U.S. Constitution. It flies in the face of a principle this nation was founded on: that the federal government has limited power.

A federal government that can compel any citizen to buy anything is one that is well on its way to unlimited power. How do the do-gooders justify such a radical overhaul of American society?

Why, they’re doing good, of course. It was do-gooding that led to the horrendous 1973 Roe v. Wade  decision. It was do-gooding that led the Supreme Court to strike down, temporarily at least, state death penalty laws in 1972.

(In Texas, that decision led to the release of convicted murderer and death row inmate Kenneth MacDuff, who went on to commit several more murders. MacDuff was released from prison after another do-gooder, a federal judge, ruled that Texas prisons were overcrowded and ordered the state to make appropriate remedies.)

Now, the do-gooders are targeting the NFL. What’s their complaint? Football is a violent sport. Players get injured. Some even get concussions. Why, pro football is just like dog fighting, is what it is.

In the Oct. 19 edition of The New Yorker, best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell wrote the article “Your brain on football.” The subtitle and brief description on the magazine’s cover went like this:

“What Michael Vick did to dogs shocked sports fans, but what are we doing to NFL players? Scientists are now finding troubling links between football and trauma-related brain disease.”

Notice the phrasing in “what are we doing to NFL players?” This is classic do-gooderism. All NFL players join the league of their own volition. They are not, like the dogs in Vick’s dog-fighting ring, compelled to engage in their sport. And, unlike dog fighting, there are relatively few deaths from playing pro football.

But in the eyes of the do-gooders, NFL players aren’t knowingly assuming risks. We’re causing the brain injuries and concussions. In his story, Gladwell wondered if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would have doubts about his sport if he’d talked to former players now suffering from brain trauma after Goodell’s chat with Vick.

There’s a Brobdingnagian problem with Gladwell’s assertion: Goodell has talked to former players. In testimony before Congress on Oct. 28, Goodell said, “I have personally traveled around the country to meet with groups of retired players and their families. I have met with many of them individually and in small groups, and have had discussions with advocates of retired players.”

How did I get this information? By Googling it. I went to the NFL Web site and got the e-mail address of Greg Aiello, who’s in the league’s public relations department. He e-mailed me Goodell’s statement in a matter of hours, along with what the league is doing to lessen and treat concussions.

There’s a process for what I did. We journalist types call it “reporting.” Clearly, the do-gooders of the land have no use for it.

Examiner columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to Sudan.


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Gregory Kane


Examiner columnist Gregory Kane is an award-winning journalist who lives in Baltimore.

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