Monday, November 11, 2013

Non-Fiction Monday: Fourth Down and Inches: Concussions and Football's Make-or-Break Moment

by Carla Killough McClafferty. 96 p. Lerner Publishing Group, September, 2013. 9781467710671. (Purchased.)

Readers who pick up this attractive, oversize volume with the suspenseful title may be getting more than they bargained for unless they read the subtitle carefully. This book should be mandatory reading for every coach, parent and, yes, even player in the country. 

Even the casual observer of football probably has a passing understanding of its history of brutality, macho, no pain/ no gain mentality and perhaps, even deaths at all levels of play. Author McClafferty traces the history of brain injury in American football back to the late 1800s when the death of a University of Georgia student began a movement to ban football through the present. At one point in the early 1900s, Teddy Roosevelt had to meet with the Presidents of Harvard and Yale to discuss whether it should continue to be played. The sport was valued for its brutality but efforts were made to improve the safety of the players with new rules and equipment.

Unfortunately, even the best helmet cannot protect the brain, as the author clearly and understandably explains the physics of a brain injury. The narrative is readable, compelling, and a bit scary. As the parent of four boys, I was happy that they gravitated towards soccer instead of football. But soccer players are not immune to repetitive head trauma, especially if they play at an elite level. They are expected to head the ball. Often. And the only protective gear they wear are shin guards! Last year, a student at my school was put on total brain rest when she crashed head-first into a goal post and was knocked unconscious during a club soccer game. She was a fantastic student, reader as well as athlete and it took quite awhile before she was able to read without headache and with any concentration at all. 

Photographs are plentiful, informative and well-captioned. They include photos of players, MRI images and even pathology slides of the brains of dead football players. The research is meticulous and chapter notes are provided in addition to suggestions for further reading. This is a must-purchase addition to any school and public library. Display it prominently. It will not sit. 
Visit the author's website here.

Other blog reviews:
Ms. Yingling Reads
My Head is Full of Books
NSTA (National Science Teachers Association)

Non-Fiction Monday is hosted by Wrapped in Foil this week.

1 comment:

  1. Very topical book. It will be interesting to see how sports change over the next few years due to these findings, including soccer.