Letters to the Editor: December 22 – 28. 2011

When F.C. Revved Up to Ignore Info on Football Dangers


I appreciated your column about football injuries. In the mid 80’s when my wife was school board chairman a child from Winchester ruptured his spleen during a Mustang game and died on the way home.

At that time our local team had not been winning very often, and the preparation of the athletic fields was a major budget expense. Concurrently my pediatric journals had several articles about the frequency and severity of football injuries. I mentioned to my wife, the chairman, that Falls Church should seriously reevaluate its commitment to football. She said that if I felt strongly about it I should make a presentation to the school board. I agreed and spent time gathering facts and prepared a statement for the meeting.

The word had apparently leaked out about my intentions, so when I arrived at the council chamber the left and center sections were totally full. Cheerleaders in uniform, football players in uniform shirts, parent athletic boosters in team shirts and enough students and parents were there to fill every available seat in those sections. The right side of the chamber was totally empty. When I arrived someone came over to me, pointed to the empty section and said, “Dr. Salsbury, that is your side.” When the time came I made my presentation with lots of statistics and a recommendation that we put more emphasis on other less injurious sports. Then the other pro football side spoke-one after another. After well over an hour there were still many waiting to speak, and the board needed a break. After a break many more spoke about the value and importance of football. One woman said that it wasn’t our child that died, so why should our football program suffer. The board voted unanimously to continue its support to the football program. The audience cheered, and I left quietly through a different door.

Because of comments such as yours parents, coaches and trainers are much more aware of the dangers of repeated head trauma than they were 30 years ago. This is a major advance in public awareness that will benefit scores of young athletes who insist they are immortal.

Carl Salsbury,M.D.

Falls Church


Outlawing Football Would Drive It Underground


The News-Press hit the trifecta for the week of December 8.

First, since I am not a citizen of the City of Falls Church, I am not represented by or have the right to vote for David Snyder. But I have the privilege of calling him a friend. A good friend who speaks with knowledge and wisdom. So when he speaks out for the good of the community, listen carefully, learn and act. His recent commentary should convince you to support his ideas about a light rail system that will benefit us all. Thanks, Dave!

As for Nicholas Benton’s coluimne on outlawing football.

Dear Mr. Benton, My high school’s first principal lost his son in a high school game therefore my school never did have a team. But injuries are sometimes the collateral damage of contact sports which is more than just a game. It’s a business that employs tens of thousands of people at many levels and generates billions of dollars in revenue not just for owners and players but for vendors, advertisers, consumer products.

If the game were made illegal it would go underground, drop regulations, change the rules and cause greater damage to the participants. These contact sports are evolving and have made and are making changes to make them safer but not totally free from injury. Evolution takes time, and if we outlaw too many activities we’ll spend the rest of our lives…reading your editorials.
And when Helen Thomas asks the musical question, “Is that all there is?”, about who the Republicans will choose to be their standard bearer…maybe the question should read,
“Who will be their substandard bearer?”

Paul M. Levy

Via the Internet


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