Dartmouth clashes with Yale in 2009 (AP Photo/Bob Child)In January Steven H. Miles and Shailendra Prasada argued in the American Journal of Bioethics that it was unwise, unsafe and unethical for youngsters to play football.
Public schools should end their football programs because of the high prevalence of concussions… The brain is an irreplaceable organ, the health of which is foundational for the ability to learn, socialize and for fully realizing life’s physical and vocational opportunities.Now the Ivy League, a conference of eight universities which play each other in a famous traditional rivalry, has agreed to stop all full-contact hitting from practices during the regular season. This is “the most aggressive measure yet to combat growing concerns about brain trauma and other injuries in the sport,” says the New York Times.
Research shows that fewer full-contact practices reduces the number of concussions.
Momentum for the change was created by the coach of Dartmouth University, Buddy Teevens. He introduced it in 2010 – but went on to an impressive record. His team placed third in the Ivy League in 2013, second in 2014 and equal first last year. “It hasn’t hurt our level of play,” he said. “It’s actually made us a better team.”
And bioethicist Arthur Caplan told Forbes:
“There’s two real incontrovertible points: The only real way to make the game safer that we know of right now is not equipment, but diminishing contact. There’s no equipment fix for injury. There is some hope that if you train a little more smartly, you can avoid certain orthopedic injuries, but I don’t see anything that’s going to cut back on the head injuries except less contact. So to put it succinctly: The only way to make it safer is to play it differently.”
Neurodegenerative disease is often cited as a reason for requesting assisted suicide or euthanasia. So insights into the motivations of profoundly disabled persons who want to live -- like British physicist Stephen Hawking -- are valuable.
Another victim of ALS in the same league as Hawking is Mario Melazzini, the new chairman of the board of the Italian counterpart to the FDA in the US. He has been in a wheelchair for 14 years and is completely dependent upon carers. Nonetheless he expresses an infectious optimism about life.
When I started to look at my disease with fresh eyes, I understood it and made a fresh start on life. The moment I stopped thinking about what I could not do because of ALS, but what I could still do for myself, for my children and friends, my life changed …
Life is a gift, an asset which must be nurtured from the moment of conception to natural end, even with illness. Life must not be manipulated according to an ideology. We need to realise that in any condition, when properly supported, everything can be seen as a great opportunity … The only incurable thing is the will to live!
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