Since I wrote our last Economic Update a few weeks ago, Chain Gangs & Pipe Dreams, two players on my son’s freshman team have broken bones (that I know of) and one has suffered a concussion.  I also heard that a team out east forfeited a game for safety reasons; the opposing team’s offensive line had an average weight of 290 lbs compared to their own at 190.

Today, former pro bowler Herschel Walker – now a mixed martial arts participant – had this to say in the Wall Street Journal.   

“Ask former NFL pro-bowler Herschel Walker why he likes mixed martial arts and he’ll give you a surprising answer: It’s safer than football.    Mr. Walker says his new sport’s blood is what scares viewers.   “But that blood isn’t as bad as all the hits to the head in football,” he says.   Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman, says “much has changed” in the treatment of concussions since Mr. Walker retired.

A few nights ago, I watched one of the earliest documentaries of all time, Nanook of the North, a film about an eskimo and his family in the 1920’s.  It wasn’t an easy life for Nanook, but he wouldn’t have known otherwise.  A year or two ago, I also remember reading an article on and participating in a discussion about which sport was home to the best athletes. 

My comment at the time was that the world’s best athletes from a historical perspective were likely those who could bring down a wooly mammoth or walrus for their next meal, survive a harsh sub zero climate for an extended period of time, or protect one’s family from from murderers, pillagers and rapists.  Athleticism, in this sense, was a very practical, necessary and revered trait.  

It is very tempting to snub one’s nose at mixed martial arts fighters, Roman gladiators, and modern day footballers as hopelessly outdated in a postmodern age, but that would be a grave mistake.  If it weren’t for these types, we might all be Germans today.           
I’m going to try to remember all of this when I hear the crunching of bones in the end zone on Thursday and at my medieval jousting practice on Friday morning.   

(Michael Vick/dogfight haters take note.  On more than one occasion, Nanook had to keep his sled dogs from killing each other over food and mating rights and actually had to build a separate igloo for the pups to keep them from becoming overnight snacks for their older adult brethren.)