Sad, Not Surprising

Some sports insist that players hit the ball. Other sports demand hitting other players.

Golf asks that players hit the ball, driving it toward a hole in the ground. Golf may also require an attire not otherwise contemplated, never mind considered or complimentary.

Likewise, one gets ahead and wins in baseball by hitting the ball. As far as possible, and, typically, without the ball beaning other players.

Unlike golf where electric carts provide player exercise, in baseball players have to run. Fast. Unless they knock the ball (but, again, not other players) out of the stadium.

Oddly, today’s climate of gentility demands that we civilize violent sports, otherwise the story moves from the sports to the news section. The physical violence of hitting and tackling other players: OK. The unbridled meanness of words: No Way!

Nasty voicemail messages are sanctioned. As they should be.

Still, what do we expect?

This year we’re surprised to learn that some (amateur as well as professional) football players suffer concussions and that such injuries have long-lasting, sometimes permanent, effect.

It’s the police chief, Captain Renault’s line out of “Casablanca”: “I’m shocked, shocked.”

Isn’t the point of football to move the ball up and down the field, simultaneously physically plowing over those who seek to retard the ball carrier’s progress? To paraphrase the model married to the quarterback: the ball doesn’t carry itself.

There are no invitations to discuss or negotiate ball movement, or otherwise pause the action on the football field.

Football is a “game” of aggression. And the “best” players are aggressive.

Golf, I’m told, also produces aggressive behavior. But bending a club over one’s knee or tossing a 9-iron into the pond rarely injures someone else.

How about that other “sport”: the one where the whole point is to repeatedly jar the opponent’s brain against the inside of their skull until they lose consciousness. And when that effect occurs, we call it a “defeat” and the perpetrator a “winner.”

Is this stuff really all that complicated? Hit-The-Ball.

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