Placing a stone in your left shoe will take your mind off a blister on your right foot; but it does not solve the problem.
Faced with domestic starvation and civil unrest, many dictators have created external enemies in hopes of distracting their countrymen and women and rallying their support. Think of North Korea as just one of dozens of examples, recent to ancient. It has even ocurred in the US, recently and throughout our nation’s history: strawmen vilified to distract us from other more pressing problems.
Closer to home, it is something like this strategy that may be at work in many school districts as they restructure and rename schools, or resort to closings and charters. And something like this is behind the state and federal emphases on standardized testing and schools of choice.
And really close to home, it was something like this at work in football. Faced with thousands of former players with alleged concussion-related illnesses filing suit against the National Football League, and bad publicity mounting, the NFL focused instead on youth football. We told them this strategy would backfire; but a professional league with more money than many nations was not inclined to listen to little guys like us.
The NFL went state by state to advance concussion legislation which was long on symbolism and low on substance, and totally lacking any enforcement capabilities. In state after state, the NFL paraded young people with sad stories in front of state legislators looking for good headlines.
So today, 49 states have new “concussion” laws; and participation rates in youth football are plummeting. Big surprise. But ironically, it’s plummeting at a time when school-sponsored football is the safest it has been since it was introduced to schools 100 years ago. The equipment is the best ever, the rules the most protective ever, the coaches and officials the best trained and most safety conscious ever.
Take a look at this quick video that tells the true story about school-sponsored football.