Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Best

Our country's children don't score at the top on international testing in math and science.  China's economy may soon eclipse our own as the largest on Earth.  The economies of several other nations are growing faster than ours.

This is terrible.  We must do something.

Maybe.  Tell me why, please.

Frankly, for the moment, I'm a little more concerned about why we ignore the mounting evidence that head injuries in football seriously endanger the quality of life of many young men.  Like the Romans, last Sunday we sat and cheered as the Colts and Saints banged their heads together.  Reforming this deadly sport eludes us as downright un-American.

A University of North Carolina study reported that the chance is 1 in 1,000 that a 30-to-49-year-old man will receive a diagnosis of dementia, Alzheimer's or another memory-related disease.  The chance that a National Football League retiree aged 30 to 49 will receive the same diagnosis is 1 in 53.

What does our passion for football have to do with our desire to be "best" in the world?  Nothing, maybe.  Something, maybe.  Passions, after all, by definition are not rational.  Perhaps our other decision-making is equally driven by passion.  As we watch China grow, with its huge population that dwarfs our own, do we know and understand our concern?

"Time out," says Virginia.  "Are you saying our children shouldn't study hard?"

"No way," I say.  "I kind of like the idea of being the best we can be, but let's give a lot more thought to what the 'best' can be."

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