Too many football players, too many hockey players and high school kids, taking what are called 'minor concussions' and going right back into the game like I saw at least twice last year with the Eagles and in a couple of hockey games this year. No matter what the leagues say, the name of the game is hitting - has to be hitting, because it's what we (including me) love. But it's going to have to change. Nobody knows it like me. Follow me over the squirrely orange thing.
Heaven knows I've said enough about my injured little brain. Brief recap for those who avoided it: last year I suffered one fairly serious concussion and one that didn't seem so bad. I have not recovered. I have post-concussive syndrome. My concentration, speech, equilibrium, emotions, and things I can't remember right now are badly affected.
What I haven't said before is that this all started when I was a baby, I think. Someone told me that when I was a baby my father grabbed me by one foot and threw me into the wall. (My parents were divorced after that.) I know one side of my face is off-kilter, and that all my life, I've been terribly clumsy. I fell out of trees, off of monkey bars, down steps, up steps, on flat floors, out of bathtubs, and I can remember one time on the bumper cars when the whole world started moving around me after I got hit hard. Concussion after concussion, but back then, you got sent home and your mother was told to make sure you woke up every 2 hours. No other treatment. And to tell the truth, I always recovered quickly. Or seemed to.
The last two concussions in 2011 seem to have pushed me over the edge, recovery-wise. My physical therapist says she thinks I've been ataxic for a long time, leading to clumsiness, leading to falling. From being thrown into the wall? Falling off my bike, or off the back steps onto the big rock? I don't know.
What I do know is the future. Andre Waters and Junior Seau and Rick Rypien, Boogard and Easterling and Belak, are showing me. My deteriorating handwriting and inability to name the annual flowers I just planted (abutilon? Agastache? No, damn it, alyssum - I cannot remember that word, I had to look it up) are telling me. There is nothing anyone can do about it. Not neurologists, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, nothing.
It's 20 years since I won on Jeopardy! in 1992. I couldn't do it now. I wonder where I'll be in 20 years.
I hope that in 20 years the games I love will have changed because we've realized that there are people inside the high-tech helmets, and we don't want anybody to get hurt any more than they have to. I don't want this future for anyone. It's time for the leagues to face that, and us too - they've been playing to our worst instincts for a long time, and they can't do it anymore.