On January 16, President Barack Obama made it clear that if he had a son, he would have to think “long and hard” before he let Junior play football. This isn’t an attack on the sport, it’s our nation slowly coming to terms with just how dangerous and damaging the game can be to its players.
As a relatively new journalist, I often feel overwhelmed and helpless. There’s so much wrong that needs righting, so much news that need telling, and so much time and energy wasted in shock and awe because Beyonce-lipsyched-the-national-anthem.
So it is extraordinarily inspiring to realize that one journalist, Alan Schwarz of the New York Times, is responsible for effectuating change in a behemoth as powerful as the NFL. Starting with just basic math that no one took the time to check (or that they chose to ignore), Mr. Schwarz painstakingly analyzed the rate of brain injuries in ex-NFL players, versus the rate in the general population. He wrote story after story.
And the stories led to Congressional hearings, NFL rule changes, and a reworking of our nation’s mindset as we opened our eyes to the true horror story that are concussions.
In this age of cost cutting at every (still extant) newspaper across the country, we’re fortunate to have amongst us dogged investigative reporters like Mr. Schwarz, and his employer, the New York Times.