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Letter to the Editor: The long-term effects of football

Even with one of the largest per-student endowments of any university in the country, the question remains: how can Grinnell College save money and plan for a long term sustainable budget?

Recent college developments indicate the Humanities are under increasing scrutiny, and at least part of the reason is because the college must maintain a tight budget for the future. We suggest a conversation about the future of Grinnell should begin with the issues on the periphery of the school’s education.

The story of David Duerson has shocked us into writing a letter. Duerson, an NFL lineman, committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest, and implied in text messages to his family that his brain should be studied by science. As the New York Times reports, “ After years of denying or discrediting evidence of football’s impact on the brain—from C.T.E. in deceased players to an increasing number of retirees found to have dementia or other memory-related disease—the N.F.L. has spent the last year addressing the issue, mostly through changes in concussion management and playing rules.” Dozens of players are now submitting their brains to science. The evidence of the harmful long-term effects is mounting.

In 2009, Purdue University conducted a Neuroscience study with a high school football team. The researchers concluded that even the sort of minor head-to-head contact that occurs on every play has traumatic effects on players’ brains. The two players focused in the study weighed roughly the same as many Grinnell players at 260 and 190 pounds, respectively. Two Purdue engineering professors and their staff, Sports Illustrated reported in 2010, “fitted 23 helmets with accelerometers and gave both the players IMPACT test—a computerized neurocognitive exam that tests memory and concentration—and tests of working memory while their brains were monitored with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).”

The engineers combined accelerometer figures with IMPACT scores to get a sense of how players were affected by football. Researchers considered anytime an accelerometer exceeded 80 Gs was enough force to cause a concussion. Multiple hits in the first contact practice they attended exceed 100 G’s. One offensive lineman suffered an impact of 289 Gs (289 times the force of gravity) while holding an extra-point, an event that occurs multiple times in most games. The scores of one lineman before and after the preseason were examined, and he scored 20% lower on the visual memory section of the IMPACT test, which requires rapid identification of recurring patterns. Other players also fared particularly poorly on the test. And the scariest find of the entire study? Four players were categorized as “functionally impaired” with apparent symptoms of which none the four were cognizant.
Schools have responded to this and other studies. The New York Times reported: “‘Because of the seriousness of the potential consequences, the presidents determined the league needed to take proactive steps in protecting the welfare of our student-athletes,’” said Robin Harris, the executive director of the Ivy League.

According to new rules, teams will be able to hold only two full-contact practices per week during the season, compared with a maximum of five under N.C.A.A. guidelines. On the other days of the week, practices cannot include contact or live tackles, and no player may be ‘taken to the ground.’” Grinnell has adopted similar measures, but this avoids the inconvenient fact that even during these two practices and particularly during games, significant, concussive-inducing hits occur.

The other disturbing consequence of playing football is the constant pressure to gain weight and eat an unhealthily large number of calories. An American Medical Journal article published in January 2007 classified an astonishing 45% of the high school linemen it studied as overweight, and 9% with adult severe obesity. The article concludes, “Severe obesity in adolescence can have an important impact on quality of life and accompanies several comorbid conditions.” On a nationally read blog, one Grinnell football players details his strategy for gaining weight rapidly in order to play college football. He writes that he gained 100 pounds between his sophomore year in high school and his first year in college. One of the central thrusts of Grinnell athletics is to encourage wellness. How does encouraging rapid weight gains fit into this purported institutional philosophy?
Another less considered argument was advanced by Swarthmore College when they ended their football program in 2000. College spokesman Tom Krattenmaker said at the time, “it’s basic math. If you eliminate football, you suddenly have a lot more spaces for everything else.” As a small liberal arts college, Grinnell’s recruited football players represents a chunk of each incoming class. The College Sports Project has cogently summarized the data at 84 selective Division III schools. They concluded that male recruited athletes at the 24 most selective of these schools in certain target sports significantly underperformed academically compared to their peers. As an institution we must always ask ourselves if we have best utilized our coveted admission spots. At a minimum, Grinnell would do itself a great favor by participating in such useful data collection to show the impact of this recruitment. Clarity and transparency are reasonable expectations at such a tightly-knit institution as our own.

We write this article on behalf of a number of concerned students who respect the vast majority of the football team and believe they belong here as well, as students. We ask that these recommendations be considered by adding it to the list of topics for the Strategic Planning Committee. Maybe the proposed solution appears to be brash, but it must be. No half measure could protect these students’ minds. We can make Grinnell a leader and save money. President Kington, you know the effects of binge drinking on the brain and passionately object to the practice for that reason, so take a step to address the practice of binge head-bashing due to its effects on students’ minds. We suggest that Grinnell College, in concurrence with peer institutions like Colorado and Swarthmore College, should suspend its football program indefinitely until these critical issues can be addressed.

Marcus Eagan ’12 and Thomas Neil ’14


Editor’s note: The S&B received a complaint that comments supporting football players or the football program are being edited out because of their content. This is not true. All comments are approved except those deemed inflammatory without cause or argument, off-point personal attacks, and comments published under someone else’s name.

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  • J

    John DionneDec 25, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    Hey, this is still pretty serious. Football needs reform.

  • W

    Will the realMay 25, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Marcus Eagan please stand up:

    I never posted here, not as myself. Nor did Thomas. Shout out to all the articles supporting my points, and the Grinnell College football team.

  • D

    Dugan Knoll '12Jan 18, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    @Drax — I knew some idiots back in high school, but a 560 is the lowest score I have ever heard of. I’m sure some athletes are given an unfair advantage in admissions, but maybe you misheard the score? A student with a score that low would fail out in the first semester. As to your claim on wealthy foreign and domestic students: I am sure those students are trained to take the act/sat and have studied at the best private institutions, and so I doubt their pre-college academic records are poor. Grinnell has a much higher number of low-income students than other higher education institutions because of its financial aid policies. International students reflect well on college ratings, and I doubt you’ll make progress there.

    If enough students want to make a change to the admissions policies to reduce favoritism towards athletes, then what would be the action to take? I agree that an audit is not the solution. If a few students write letters of concern, would it have an effect?

    @ Buse — I agree that anonymous posting allows nasty conversation. The solution that I see is only allowing students with an email to post. That would be the only way to verify identity. However that eliminates parents and alumni that do not have that e-mail address.

  • R

    Recent gradJan 18, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Wow Drax, you hate everybody, don’t you? Football players, foreign students, kids with wealthy parents. What about the Jews?

  • D

    Drax SleetaJan 7, 2012 at 11:24 am

    @Dugan- I’m sure that football is treated exactly the same as any other extracurricular activity and that an exceptional violinist or fencer with a 560 could get in just as easily. Yep, 100% sure…I don’t want to make this strictly about football though, because I’m *actually* 100% sure that auditing the records of the Admissions Office will turn up all kinds of scandalous little tidbits. I’d be especially interested in the pre-college academic records of wealthy foreign exchange students and even wealthy domestic ones…For an environment that gets so high on its progressive airs, Grinnell sure does play host to a lot of idiot children of banana republic aristocracies

  • D

    Dugan Knoll '12Jan 6, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Clint, in my experience as baseball player, I have heard derogatory statements spoken loosely by underclassmen. Yet the upperclassmen players will call them out and challenge those beliefs. I expect the same from the football team and therefore believe the team culture does not propogate misogyny, homophobia, or violence. Every Grinnell student, regardless of team affiliation, develops their morals and values throughout their time on campus.

    I agree with John Q. Public that there are a few bad apples and we should take steps to limit their number. His argument was egalitarian and respectful.

    Also the admissions office should treat football players (and other athletes) the same as any other student who participates in an extracurricular activity and contributes those abilities to the college community. If a student is extraordinary at some activity, then it is an example of their propensity for achievement and it should be considered. If the admissions office is unreasonably favoring athletes, then it is not improving our college.

    And finally, to the disheartened parents:
    As a student athlete, you are surrounded by teammates and fellow students that are intellectual and open-minded. The athlete/non-athlete separation on campus exists in some extents, but it does not ruin this great college experience. Don’t worry about it too much.

  • B

    Buse '11Dec 31, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Maybe comments should require real names. All of this anonymity made for some nasty conversation and unbalanced talk.

    If an author is required to use his or her name, the commentators should be as well, specifically in a community the size of Grinnell.

  • R

    Response to kowardDec 22, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    The school does not adequately control the drug problem on campus. Allowing any funding for the Alice party on south campus each year shows the lack of concern for student’s health.

  • K

    Koward InafukuDec 22, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    The school does not pay for drugs

  • J

    John KirriemuirDec 20, 2011 at 9:33 am

    I find the vitriol of the comments somewhat disappointing. And, not for the first time, it’s an indicator that Americans need to play more cricket and less of other, less cerebral, sports.

    Why? And why a sport where a single match can take up to five days – and still end in a draw?

    Because cricket is not a violent contact sport. Instead, it is a cognitive, psychological sport (often described as ‘chess on a field’). It requires the highest levels of mental discipline and concentration, of sportsmanship, and of teamwork and collaboration. In addition, skills that can only be developed through committed training.

    It can also be mentally vicious. At the heart of it is the batsman, who can be in the middle of the field for hours, even a few days. With just the other batsman for company out there, and surrounded by eleven people trying to wear him (or her) down into making a mistake. Play cricket; you gain mental strength, a necessity for a successful life.

    Cricket is also more widespread in America than most people think. And, the first cricket match between two countries – which became the world’s oldest international sporting rivalry – involved the USA in 1844 (sorry, but you lost, to Canada):

    Cricket in the US is played mostly in places with a diversity of population. With the added attribute that it is a sport played mostly in the mind, there are few colleges more suited to the sport than Grinnell. If you want a starting point, read up on the history, and the shared roots of baseball and cricket (there are a lot of similarities, especially with the short form of cricket).

    And if you get good at it then you may end up bowling like this, or batting like this.

  • R

    Recent gradDec 19, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Released three weeks ago here is another of a long line of studies that strongly suggests soccer leads to brain injuries: You all are barking up the wrong tree. Time to ban soccer. NOW!

  • I

    Isaac WilderDec 17, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    I know that this article is about Hockey, but it does seem to present some very well reasoned arguments about the dangers of repeated impacts to the noggin:

    I agree with Dugan – putting aside all of the juvenile and ad hominem responses, I hope that we can talk about the actual issue at hand: the science of brain trauma, and the well being of student athletes. It really does seem to me that the school would do well to end the football program. It brings us little, and costs us much. We don’t even need to talk about the misbehavior of program participants – the science speaks for itself.

    Given the copious evidence present by Thomas and Marcus, I’m not sure that the science really even ought to be considered inconclusive. Even if it were, I think the reasoning from the above article quite cogent:

    “By waiting for science, thousands of asbestos workers and millions of smokers died. The fact is, as a society we rarely have the luxury of waiting for science on big, difficult, potentially dangerous questions to meet its standard of proof. We need to take the best science we have, generate more and better information, then apply to it our best intuition and common sense — and decide. Scientists are always disparaging of politicians and other decision-makers for being so influenced by anecdote. But an anecdote, well observed, thorough, rigorous, and truth-seeking (not ax-grinding), can tell a lot. At any moment, it may also be the best information we have.” -Ken Dryden

  • J

    John Q PublicDec 16, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    It’s hard for me to take counter-accusations of discrimination and abuse seriously when I see that only ONE side is

    1) Keeping lists of their critics
    2) Intimidating witnesses
    3) Threatening those who speak against them

    I would give my name, but while I applaud Marcus’ idealism, I’ve seen what happens to people who speak up.

    I totally understand that these people aren’t representative of the team. That argument is totally valid. Groups are aggregations of individuals; they aren’t self-aware. However, I don’t think that’s the issue here. The issue is more about statistics.

    We can’t prevent “bad” things from happening–be they alcohol poisoning, aggressive behavior, misogyny, etc. What we CAN do is to try to reduce their frequency and severity. I would think about this issue as being less about prevention than about mitigation. I know that Grinnell prides itself on idealism, but there comes a point where we have to realize that we aren’t going to ever have a perfect community. The pro-football argument is right on one thing: not all football players are doing bad things, and not all bad things are done by football players. We can’t draw clear lines in the sand here; to do so would be simplistic and confrontational.

    However, if members of a certain group are consistently causing more than their proportional share of trouble, than perhaps there’s something to be said about such associations. No one ever believes that generalizations apply absolutely to all members of a group. Rather, generalizations *generalize*–they are lines of best-fit that, when based on statistics rather than unfounded hate or bigotry, are not inherently evil or useless.

    To that end, we should pay heed to some of these generalizations (apologies to all post-modern idealists; I don’t live in an ivory tower). The fact is that there have many incidents this year and in years past that have involved groups of football players. Not the group of football players generally, but subsets of that group who–nevertheless–self-identify as football players. It’s not their membership to that group that’s the issue: the issue is fact the that this group consistently attracts “bad apples.”

    I’m not saying that we should cut the football program, but I am saying that these discussions are relevant–even pressing. I think that a better way to reduce these incidents would be to attract fewer “bad apples”. I also think that the best way to do this would be to examine and restructure the football recruitment process. The football program doesn’t turn anyone “bad” or “un-Grinnellian”. I’d actually argue the opposite; I think that it builds character through hard work and commitment. But the number of “pushes” that the program has is ridiculous, and promotes the recruitment of people who come here for the Grinnell’s football program rather than for Grinnell itself. It’s good to win, but winning isn’t everything–especially if it comes at the cost of admitting recruits who, through their actions, endanger the whole program.

    So instead of cutting football, let’s try to recruit athletes who are Grinnellians first and football players second. Seriously, let’s talk about this. This discussion doesn’t have to be hostile or confrontational. I think that we can all find a reasonable solution.

    As for the sentiments of Mr. Bale et al.: we didn’t elect you to silence debate even if you don’t like it.

  • W

    WTFDec 15, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    why do Will frampon’s comments keep getting deleting. he speaks the Paul Pierce. by that I mean he speaks Da truth!

  • T

    Tim TebowDec 15, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    I really feel that everyone should just get along and play some football

  • W

    Will Frampon '08Dec 15, 2011 at 7:43 am

    delete my comment will you? I thought Grinnell was open-minded. I didn’t even swear or call anyone out. All I did was pose a question. Excuse me for being inquisitive and questioning “the man.”

  • K

    Kainoa Inafuku '14Dec 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    I’m sorry Marcus, I am indeed a Coward. Your courage in writing this article, knowing that it would be received unfavorably by a portion of the community has inspired me. my post was labeled as Random Student and I feel horrible about not owning up to it. I’m sorry for delegitimizing the forum with my nonsense and immaturity, I understand that it was irrelevant to the discussion and I only sought to lighten the mood. I hope that the Grinnell College environment can help me graduate from my group of cronies and that someday soon I can contribute something intellectually on-par enough to be submitted into this discussion without soiling it with subjective, baseless and hurtful comments. Until then I think I will go and research the debilitating effects that drugs have on the brain, so that I can contribute something substantial to the Grinnell College community and spark discourse among the student body.

  • D

    Drax SleetaDec 14, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    On the very first day that I attended Grinnell College, I went and joined a football keg party on the top of Cowles. Quickly after my entrance one of the players started bragging to me about how he had gotten into the college despite getting only a 560 on the SATs. Guess they were pretty desperate for a good running back…Btw, the “They bring down our GPA” argument is silly. There are certain classes taught by certain professors at Grinnell that people like my friend from the top of Cowles can take and breeze through (It’s not an uncommon practice in American colleges, by any means). If you really want to see the “brain drain” going on, there should be a push for an audit of the records of the Admissions Office to see just how low the standards of the college could go when Coach needed a new left tackle or fullback or whatever the fuck. The football team does bring diversity to Grinnell…a diverse group of people who normally wouldn’t come close in anyway whatsoever to meeting any normal standard of admission. Stay classy, Grinnell.

  • R

    Recent gradDec 14, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    This article is wildly off the mark! There are a series of studies strongly suggesting soccer players are especially prone to brain injuries. Hooliganism, violence and excessive alcohol consumption has also been associated with the game of soccer throughout the world. And at the small college level, a recent study shows soccer players are socioeconomically privileged particularly when compared to college football players. Don’t we have enough of the upper-crust at Grinnell already? The football team adds to Grinnell’s diversity which is a value, that rhetorically at least, the school claims to value (although judging from some of the comments perhaps not). I do think serious consideration should be given to dropping soccer as a sport.

  • B

    Be HonestDec 14, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    As someone for whom sports injuries have been a painful part of my family past and who still must live with that worry, this article angers me. The authors have taken a legitimate concern of mine and use it to attack a population. They are not ‘defending’ the players, but taking advantage of the dangers that come inherent in any sport. The only ones who can make a decision about whether a player should participate or not are the player, sports staff and medical professionals. Mr Eagan and Mr Neil are none of these. If they have a problem with any aspect of the football team, whether with it’s members or it’s budgets, they should address it directly.

  • F

    Football momDec 14, 2011 at 2:10 am

    My son is on the football team and i find this very disturbing. How can someone not not express their political views without being attacked, yet it is ok to discriminate against the football program? This is blasphemy and if anything we should get rid of the anthropology department, I mean for crying out loud Gary Kahn was an anthro major. If he can study anthro then any of the non athletic students that dont know what else to major in can. or history, why should we worry about things that already happened, lets look towards the future and the success of the football program in the upcoming years 🙂

  • H

    Holden Bale '12Dec 14, 2011 at 12:34 am

    Maybe we should take this article (or at least the comments) off of the website because it is only causing more harm than good. Why publicly attack these individuals?

  • S

    Skeptical ObserverDec 13, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    As an observer to multiple disturbing instances this past weekend involving the football team, I can assure “Dugan Knoll” that their confrontation with the author of this article on Saturday was anything but “a couple” drunk football players executing their freedom of speech. It looked a lot more like 6 or 7 members of the football team engaging in both verbal and physical intimidation. In no situation would I see disbanding the football team to be the best resolution to these issues, more than the vast majority of the players are not only great guys but impressive classmates. Rather, it seems, a few exceptions to a generally well behaved group have created a bad name for everyone associated with Grinnell Football. Hopefully these issues will be addressed in the near future before Grinnell becomes a further divided campus, something no one wants to see happen.

    -Also, the fact that anyone would argue that football isn’t damaging to the brain, as well as the rest of the body, is delusional… In this article by a former NFL lineman he explains the conscious decision all football players make, trading significant portions of their life for the huge salaries that would otherwise be unattainable.

  • C

    Clint Williamson '13Dec 13, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    asserting, resulting from, or characterized by belief in the equality of all people, especially in political, economic, or social life.

    As previously stated, a culture which propagates misogyny, homophobia, violent, and separatist behavior is in and of itself an opposition to egalitarian values. Their is an inherent difference between individuals and a culture. When one makes an argument regarding cultural values it does not mean individual team member’s values (i.e. people make up a collective cultural but are more than just members of said culture). Additionally, the poem proves little more than the idealization/fetishization of an institution. Grinnellians choose to question all institutions and to do so in regards to an extracurricular activity is entirely warranted,reasonable, and reflective of our collective campus values. Finally, a note from my own subjective experience with members of the football team (not implying an objective whole): When I quit hearing members of the football team using the word “faggot” and “bitch,” I will possess infinitely more respect for their cultural institution and reconsider its place within Grinnell.

  • E

    Emily Bajet, Opinions EditorDec 13, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    All comments S&B editors find inappropriate will be deleted. This includes offensive and irrelevant remarks about any individual, not solely the authors. In no way does Marcus or Thomas control what is cut, only editors may make that decision.

  • T

    The Culture of FootballDec 13, 2011 at 9:05 am

    After the Last Practice
    (Grinnell, Iowa, November, 1971)
    A poem by Edward Hirsch ‘72, President of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation

    Someone said, I remember the first hard crack
    Of shoulderpads on the sidelines before a game,
    And the bruises that blossom on your arms afterward.

    Someone else remembered the faint, medicinal smell
    Seeping through the locker-room on Saturday
    Getting your ankles taped while a halfback

    Frets in the whirlpool about his hamstrings:
    Steam on three mirrors, the nervous hiss
    Of the first hot shower of the morning.

    We talked about the tension mounting all day
    Until it became the sound of spikes clattering
    Across the locker-room floor, the low banter

    Of the last players pulling on their jerseys,
    Our middle-linebacker humming to himself
    And hammering a forearm against the lockers

    While an assistant coach diagrammed a punt
    Return for the umpteenth time on his clipboard
    For two cornerbacks looking on in boredom…

    Eventually, it always came down to a few words
    From the head coach—quiet, focused, intense—
    While a huge pit opened up in your stomach

    And the steady buzz of a crowd in the distance
    Turned into a minor roaring in your skull
    As the team exploded onto the field.

    The jitters never disappeared until the opening
    Kickoff, the first contact, until a body
    Hurtled down the field in a fury

    And threw itself against your body
    While everything else in the world faded
    Before the crunching action of a play, unfolding…

    I remember how, as we talked, the flat Midwestern
    Fields stretched away into nowhere and nothing,
    How the dark sky clouded over like a dome

    Covering a chilly afternoon in late November
    On the prairie, the scent of pinecones
    And crisp leaves burning in the air,

    The smoky glow of faces around a small fire.
    Someone spoke of road trips and bridge games
    In the back of a bus rolling across the plains,

    The wooden fenceposts ticking off miles
    And miles of empty cornfields and shortgrasses,
    Windmills treading their arms, as if underwater,

    The first orange lights rising on the horizon—
    Jesus, someone said, I never thought it would end
    Like this, without pads, without hitting anybody.

    But then someone mentioned stepping out of bounds
    And getting blindsided by a bone-wrenching tackle;
    Someone else remembered writhing in a pile

    Of players coming down on his twisted body.
    Torn ligaments. Sprained wrist. A black coin
    Blooming under your left eye on Sunday morning.

    After all those years of drills and double practices,
    Seasons of calisthenics, weightrooms, coaches
    Barking orders—missed blocks, squirming

    After all those summers of trying to perfect
    A sideline pass and a buttonhook, a fly, a flag,
    A deep post, a quick pass over the middle;

    After the broken patterns and failed double-teams,
    The July nights sprinting up the stadium stairs
    And the August days banging against each other’s bodies,

    The slow walks home alone in the dusky light—
    After all those injury-prone autumns, not
    One of us could explain why he had done it.

    What use now is the language of traps
    And draws, of power sweeps and desperate on-side
    Kicks, of screen passes, double reverses?

    But still there was the memory of a sharp cut
    Into the open and the pigskin spiraling
    Into your hands from twenty yards away,

    The ecstasy of breaking loose from a tackle
    And romping for daylight, for the green
    Promised land of the empty endzone.

    Someone said, I remember running onto the field
    And seeing my girlfriend in the stands at midfield—
    Everyone around her was chanting and shouting

    And the adrenalin was coursing through my body;
    I felt as if I would explode with happiness,
    As if I would never falter, or waver, or die…

    Someone else recollected the endless, losing,
    Thirteen-hour drive home after he had bruised
    A collarbone on the last play of the game,

    The whole bus encased in silence, like a glass
    Jar, like the night itself, clarified. Afterward,
    He recalled the wild joy of his first interception…

    The fire sputtered and smoldered, faded out,
    And our voices trembled in the ghostly woodsmoke
    Until it seemed s if we were partly warriors

    And partly boyscouts ringed around the flame,
    Holding our helmets in our arms and trying
    To understand an old appetite for glory,

    Our raging, innocent, violent, American
    Boyhoods, gone now, vanished forever
    Like the victories and the hard losses.

    It was late. A deep silence descended
    As twilight disintegrated in the night air
    And the fire glowered down to embers and ashes,

    To red bits of nothing. But no one moved. Oh,
    We were burning, burning, burning, burning…
    And then someone began singing in the darkness.

  • A

    A studentDec 13, 2011 at 2:10 am

    I definitely agree that some football players negatively affect the community, and I might argue that the football team is responsible for a disproportionate amount of the overly aggressive/unGrinnellian behavior going on at this school, as well as for some average GPA dragging. I also think the administration should do a better job of telling football recruits just what they’re getting into- I have a feeling that many football players feel marginalized and uncomfortable with the Grinnell campus climate, and I don’t think they’re wrong. I think many of them get here and feel unappreciated, or like they are out of their element. They have not come for the students, or the academics, or the social justice aspect: they have come primarily because someone told them they could play football in this random town in Iowa. The problem is, there are a lot of great guys who also happen to play football. There are people who could have gotten into Grinnell on their own merit, but also happen to play football. I think that Grinnell should certainly limit pushes, if not do away with them altogether. But getting rid of the team, as some people have suggested, is drastic and unfair.

    However: our school is not known for football, and what’s more, I doubt that we receive many alumni and/or fan dollars because of our football team, as I know is the case with some Ivy League schools whose football teams are not great but pull alumni back in huge numbers for games, or with big state schools known for their college football teams. I don’t see what there is to gain by making our football team marginally better at the cost of a better community and academic climate, two trait we ARE known for. Again, I am by no means saying all, or even most football players are aggressive idiots who don’t belong here. What I am saying is that our priorities need to be readjusted. We need to stop pretending that we’re a football school, and start treating football as it is treated by most other students and alumni: an extracurricular activity. Not an institution. Hate to break it to everybody, but we’re not LSU.

  • D

    Dugan Knoll '12Dec 13, 2011 at 1:27 am

    I think that the credible argument in this essay is regarding the effects of head trauma on the human brain. This is currently being considered by the courts with a couple of lawsuits against the NCAA. Brain damage is an important issue to consider, but why don’t we wait and see how the lawsuits turn out first? Perhaps there will be changes to the rules of the game to make it even safer. Many researchers are also studying these effects, but with current knowledge and technology, they have trouble detecting whether or not a concussion has even happened. Despite the little that we know, there have been many recent improvements in the design of helmets and the rules of the game. If it is as much of a problem as some suggest, then the problem will be amended by improved equipment, rule changes, and proper training. Is brain damage something to consider? Yes. But at this point in time, it would be a brash decision to cut the team.

    Also, the arguments on the budget, obesity, and clearing space for better students are not backed by data or reliable sources. Obviously the budget argument doesn’t have any data yet. Concerning obesity and poor health, the obesity measurement used in the American Medical Journal arguments is the BMI, which is simply weight over height. It does not consider muscle mass which weighs 10 times as much as fat. Also the football team spends a ton of time in the weight room, and they must be in prime cardiovascular shape to play an entire game. Finally the football players have a better gpa than the average student. Remove these arguments from the article and the only remaining argument is the one that questions player safety. Yet, many other sports have comparable risks of head trauma and singling out the football team seems unfair. There are also some complications from removing the football team. For example, Title IX would require removing a large women’s sport from campus. Also many alumni and current students would be upset by removing a team that has been a part of Grinnell culture since 1889. Removing the football team will require much more evidence and work than what has been done already.

    Cocoa Butter –
    I think I see a few lines that Not Convinced finds offensive. The authors did not say that the players are fat and dumb, but a few statements could be read that way. We should avoid talking about the player’s brains being “functionally impaired,” their obesity (or muscular builds as I see it), and saying that there are other students who could “have best utilized our coveted admission spots.” These are not constructive criticisms and can easily cause tension. Many other groups of students become very vocal whenever they are victims of an attack. If the football team thought it was offensive, then because of free speech, they have the right to defend themselves. A couple of them peacefully spoke their mind while drunk one night. Is that something that they can be blamed for? I would expect the same from any group that feels unjustly treated. It may not the best way to handle the situation, but I don’t see why everybody has to make them sound like horrible human beings for it.

    Also I agree with Blastoise that some big mistakes by individuals have ruined the reputations of everybody on the team. Hating the entire team goes against the school’s egalitarian values. Many football players did not attend the cunnilingus party because it conflicted with their moral values, but were banned from hosting parties and were forced through counseling sessions anyway. Athletes are held to higher standards since their actions reflect on the entire team. Yet stereotyping specific teams should not happen on this campus. Assuming things about people before we get to know them will only enforce the separation of a team from the rest of the students on campus. Lets take care not to speak in generalities about the teams and to treat everybody as individuals.

    We should be trying to unite the campus, rather than raise issues that polarize. Wouldn’t that be more congruent with the Grinnell mission?

  • M

    Marcus, One of the AuthorsDec 12, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    For “Stop..” and others.

    Let’s suppose that isn’t the case because it is not. I am not going to debate hypotheticals with a group of cronies who probably still have not read the article, save the title, the last sentence and the names of the authors. In cowardice, you all have named yourselves, “Stop Funding the History Program,” “Concerned Parent,” “Alumn,” etc…

    Not only do you all delegitimize this forum with nonsense and immaturity in the same way that some people who claim to support this article have done, you all terribly misrepresent the Grinnell Football program.

    Your cowardice, too, is despicable because I am sure you are the ones who surrounded me in the loggia (6 on 1) to yell about the article and threaten me. I am not of afraid of your threats or the truth.

    Fortunately, for Thomas and me, the members of the football program and the college at-large, a constructive discussion has begun with football and brain injuries at its heart.

    Unfortunately, particularly for you few, this article has exposed the worst in the football team (albeit outliers), players who claim our article is a personal attack about recent thefts on campus, and violently threaten the authors and their uninvolved friends until the ratio drops below 6 to 1.

    Thank goodness the community will be able to move forward in discourse without your barnyard interruptions.

  • S

    Stop Funding the History ProgramDec 12, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Question for the authors: Let’s suppose the College stops giving money to the football program, i.e., defunds it. If there are alumni donors who earmark their donations to the football team, and they donate enough to completely fund the program, would you still oppose the existence of the football program? Under what arguments?

  • N

    Not ConvincedDec 12, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Young Cocoa Butter –
    The author claimed that football causes players to become obese and can cause player’s brains to be “functionally impaired.” Then the author asks if the admissions office “have best utilized our coveted admission spots.” I think many players interpret this as saying they are fat and intellectually inferior (dumb). Despite the fact that the football players spend an extremely large amount of time working out and have a higher gpa than the average Grinnell student. It is fully within the rights of free speech to argue against an author’s claims. I’m simply stating that many other groups of students become very vocal whenever they are victims of an attack. Yet other students (whose posts have since been hidden) seemed furious that a few football players peacefully approached the author to argue these statements. I do not know the context and did not witness the confrontation. Yet, I don’t think that the football team should be blamed for being offended.

    The argument about their obesity is uncalled for and malicious, i.e. “To the few critics who praised overweight, very muscular statures: wait a few years.” Many of the football players are in fantastic shape and many others have obese body types regardless of playing football. Calling them overweight is completely unprofessional. I’m sure that a professional response addressing these issues will be submitted for a future publication of the S&B.

    I find the fact that you stereotype and blame the entire football team to be contrary to the Grinnell core value of egalitarianism. I do not want to defend the cunnilingous party, because it was undoubtedly wrong, but I think that we need to move on. There are a small number of students remaining that attended the party, but the individuals responsible for hosting the party and writing the bowls are no longer at this school. I agree that writing only names is still objectification and wrong, but most students assume that the football team had a tradition of writing horribly demeaning statements. I am merely trying to clear up a misunderstanding. The writings were the act of a couple of students. The students who attended the party have been punished (disallowing football parties and required counseling). I know of multiple football players that did not attend the party because it conflicted with their moral values and they also suffer from the punishment of the guilty parties. Blaming the entire football team does not cohere with Grinnell’s values and additional punishment should not be given to the innocent individuals.

    I think that the only factually based argument in this essay is regarding the effects of head trauma on the human brain. This is currently being considered by the NCAA, researchers at respectable institutions, and many other news sources around America. However, most of the research is inconclusive and a lot is still not understood. Regardless, there have been many recent improvements in the design of helmets and the rules of the game. I agree that brain damage is an important issue to consider, but why don’t we wait and see how the lawsuits turn out first? Making a brash argument to cut the football team is not helpful. The arguments on the budget, obesity, and academic performance are flawed and not supported by data or research. All contact sports have risks involved and singling out the football team is unjustified.

    Cigarettes have killed millions more people than football. Soccer is more likely to cause head trauma than football. Maybe the authors should consider their own life choices before pointing their fingers at others.

  • M

    Marcus, One of the AuthorsDec 12, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    I assumed we had a turf field because it always looks so neat. Being reasonable, I stand corrected. But a number of people spoke with me at the two games I attended this season and can attest to my presence.

    Please engage the argument. Personal attacks on me are not warranted. I have spoken with a number of people on the team constructively and they would appreciate more constructive support.

    Will Frampon ’08, this is not a joke and it is not about me. I was in a coma for a little while after my numerous “most likely mild concussions” put me there and I had to relearn most things, including walking.

    I could say a number of things about your illustrious career, but they are not relevant to the article. Your baseless assumptions about me detract from the discussion and highlight what sort of human being you are. When I wrote this article, I prepared myself mentally for this sort of backlash, this hateful speech. But I wrote this with compassion and concern, to the best of my ability while in 4 courses.

    Yet I appreciate your baseless accusations.

    Critics, where are your names? Cowards.

    This is not an attack on any one member of the football team, so I think you should engage the arguments rather than me individually.

  • O

    oy veyDec 12, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Whatever transpired this past weekend is being dealt with from within the football team. Anyone who may or may not have confronted the authors of the article do NOT speak for the football team. In fact, a vast majority of the football team is upset with whatever it is that happened.

  • I

    invalid factsDec 12, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    We should just point out that the average GPA of football players is above that of the average Grinnell Student, and I would not call the 10-12 incoming freshman a significant chunk of an incoming class. If we want to promote health on campus, why not instate more strict drug policies, a common practice of the South Campus community. None of the hospitalizations from binge drinking were football players. If anything football promotes health as the amount of time they put exercise exceeds that of any other student and as a result do not put drugs in their body. If students would put their extra time into their studies instead of bashing minority groups then maybe we would see an improvement in the campus community. It is sad that at one of the most intellectual colleges we still have students who are ignorant to facts and judge people without knowing them.

  • M

    Max Calenberg, Sports EditorDec 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Comments directly attacking either of the authors with no direct relevance to the argument presented will not be allowed. Also, the key difference originally pointed out by Just Saying was that this is entirely an opinion piece and not an article, meaning the views purposed by it are that of the authors’ and the only them. It in no way represents the views of the S&B as a whole. Marcus’ history with the S&B has no relevance to this Letter to the Editor because we would have published it regardless of the author.

  • Y

    Young Cocoa ButterDec 12, 2011 at 2:13 pm


    Cunnilingus was in late Spring 2010, not 3 years ago, not even 2 years ago.

    Not convinced:

    “The tradition was to write only a name at the bottom of the cup, but the individuals in charge of writing them got horribly carried away.”

    Even this “tradition” fits the definition of objectifying women, to call it “far from admirable,” is entirely disrespectful to the individuals of our community victimized by that specific event and past iterations of it. And to this day there has not been a clear identification of who was and was not at the party, so until that happens I think it is entirely fair to associate a team party as representing the entire team, especially if all members present are going to defer blame
    to “The perpetrators [who] were rightly punished and are no longer at this college.”

    So every single person who attended and participated in that party no longer attends this college? Not true. There were an estimated 150 jello bowls, of which only 75 were recovered. We still have no idea of exactly how many team members were at the party, but it is obviously more than the few members “no longer at this college” you refer to.

    As for your idea that any “minority” (you need to review the definition of this term) “would confront another student for publicly calling them fat and stupid” has no factual basis because you are both twisting the authors’ words and not taking into account the context of the confrontation. What is to gain by confronting them late at night and outnumbering them? That doesn’t sound very respectful of free speech. Perhaps writing a letter refuting the claims of this letter would be more professional?

  • J

    Just Saying! 2.0Dec 12, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    “Just reminding all readers that this is a letter to the editor, not an article by S&B writers.”

    Marcus Eagan’s Experience

    Business Manager
    Grinnell College’s Scarlet and Black (newspaper)
    August 2010 – Present (1 year 5 months)

    I am responsible for contracting ads for the newspaper and putting those ads into the upcoming issue.

    The Scarlet and Black
    August 2010 – Present (1 year 5 months)

    I write a bi-weekly column on redirecting consciousness in my community.

  • R

    Random StudentDec 12, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Can’t we all just get along?



  • J

    Joe BuckhalterDec 12, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    One thing that makes this article particularly hard to view as not an attack on the football team deals with the authors. I find it hard to take seriously one of the authors who, correct me if I’m wrong, interrupted a comedian that came to campus and attempted to do a head stand. This article isn’t about doing the right thing. This article is about the authors trying make a name for themselves because they are starved for attention*cough Kim Kardashian *cough. This is my first and last comment because I refuse to give the authors any more attention than they have already undeservedly received.

  • A

    AlumDec 12, 2011 at 11:19 am

    This entire article was summed up best in a previous post, and it bears repeating: “Such hypocrisy is infectious at Grinnell. The article is hardly intellectual; it’s disguised bigotry of the sort routinely accepted by the student population at Grinnell.”

    The football team is comprised of the most diverse group of students–geographically, racially, and socioeconomically–at the college. It’s no surprise that the monolith of privileged, liberal, sheltered children at Grinnell have problems dealing with such diversity. When confronted with other people from different backgrounds who act and think differently, the reaction is immediately to exclude the “other” entirely.

    These aren’t people who are criminals; to the extent that anyone on campus is, they should be punished. But it’s not about that. This is a group of people who act different–who ARE different, and it’s that difference that you loathe. It makes you uncomfortable.

    Not everybody will live your lifestyle. Not everyone will deal with conflict the same way you do. Not everyone will share your political sensibilities. College is a great time to learn that. You may not have to accept it, but it will serve you well in life to learn some tolerance.

  • K

    Kevin McConnaughay '10Dec 12, 2011 at 11:00 am

    “Any critical thinker would notice that the only people who have put their names with their comments to this article have been supporters of its conclusion.”

    Mmm… nope. Nope, not at all.

  • C

    Concerned ParentDec 12, 2011 at 10:19 am

    These comments are so disheartening. I didn’t realize how intolerant so many Grinnell students are toward athletics.

  • A

    AlumnDec 12, 2011 at 9:47 am

    You would think that someone who “attends the games” would know that we have a grass field

  • F

    FrustratedDec 12, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Can everyone just remember that Cunnilingus was not this year, was not even last year, it was three years ago. Those who were in charge have already been punished. Jeez Louise, how long are we going to associate a team with the past actions of a few. Let it go, and let the football team move on.

  • S

    Stop Funding the History ProgramDec 12, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Get rid of the history major. The graduates of the program make very little money, an therefore don’t donate as much. The money should be spent elsewhere.

  • N

    Not ConvincedDec 12, 2011 at 4:20 am

    Football players are victims of discrimination at Grinnell. The blanket term, football players, is accusing a large number of innocent individuals. It has been inculcated throughout this discussion that they are misogynistic, violent, fat, and dumb. When a homosexual student was a victim of discrimination, many students were let out of class to join in protest. We all acknowledge that homosexuals are mistreated, but I don’t think the same acknowledgement exists concerning the football team. I believe that any minority on campus would confront another student for publicly calling them fat and stupid. As far as I can tell, the confrontation was non-violent. All I see is a bunch of hypocritical finger-waggers.

    Everybody seems to blame the entire football for participating in the Cunnilingus party, but the horrible notes that were written were unprecedented and only written by a couple of students. I know that many football players did not attend the party, but they will still be labeled just the same as the guilty individuals. The perpetrators were rightly punished and are no longer at this college. The tradition was to write only a name at the bottom of the cup, but the individuals in charge of writing them got horribly carried away. The tradition is far from admirable, but blaming the entire team is also a logical fallacy.

    Respect begets respect.

  • M

    Marcus, One of the AuthorsDec 12, 2011 at 3:41 am

    Hello everyone. I will address a number of comments that have used false information. I will provide links where links and I will ask all these so-called “alums,” especially the one that wrote “alumn” to use their real names from here on out. Otherwise, I won’t take you too seriously and no one else should either. Accountability leads to constructive discourse in forum like this one.

    Unfortunately, too many people on both sides have resorted to subjective claims and have ignored the actual content of the article.

    Stand behind your words or please expect the decision-makers reading this conversation to ignore you or read for your the Fox effect-baseless, subjective claims speaking to little approaching nothing. Any critical thinker would notice that the only people who have put their names with their comments to this article have been supporters of its conclusion. Please represent your thoughts, if you really think they are worth much.

    Now for clarifications based on facts:

    To the person that said being slimmer is a bad thing: it’s not terrible.

    To the few critics who praised overweight, very muscular statures: wait a few years.

    To the person who said the authors are not athletes:

    In fact, both are athletes in various respects. In fact, both have been athletes in college at some point in their lives. In fact, one of the authors is a current member of the Men’s Grinnell Varsity Soccer Team. The other practices capoeira. It’s a fairly athletic endeavor.

    (One takes it easy nowadays to focus on researching for his self and assisting other people’s research of TBI’s, an extracurricular he did not choose but has inherited from the ongoing studies that make critical use of his experiences).

    To those that have labeled our argument a thinly-veiled attack on the football team:

    A person that once spoke no words, took no breaths of his own will, and exhibited limited brain activity for days wrote this article. This resulted from a Traumatic Brain Injury. He had already sustained such injuries playing football as a youth. He does not want that to happen to anyone else if he can help it. This article is a step towards that unreachable goal.

    The people responding to the “end football” thesis that did not understand it as a rhetorical device in an Opinion piece:

    In positing our thesis, we knew next year’s budget had already been allocated, a portion of resources had already been used for the recruitment of next year’s players and that the idea of actually ending the football was, therefore, not plausible. We sought to spark discourse. That has certainly happened. Again, look at all the comments, despite their content.

    We only want an discussion. Not a fight. Not a divided campus.

    I have received fairly insensitive remarks in e-mail from non-football players about personal attacks I have made, but I would like for those personal attacks in the article to be be shown. I can’t find them and I co-authored the article.

    To the person who claimed that recent neurological data suggests that football does not detrimentally affect the brain and that studies that come to that conclusion are outdated:

    That claim is blatantly false. I have done the best to summarize the articles briefly, during finals week.. Therefore, I may err in some of my summaries. I am also sleepy and trying to study for finals without facing threats and receiving hateful e-mails (supporters not a worry, I have not received that many).

    This dated book (1989) chapter did not support the conclusion of this article and suggested:

    But more importantly, check these links out. They partially influenced me to co-craft this article. They are not all directly relate necessarily, they just make up about a third or a fourth of all the articles I could remember reading leading up to the writing of this article. The article went to press before I could mention the recent 3-part story on the “Boogeyman”. The technology in Neuroscience, like everything else has improved every year, so I am not sure I understand how the old science was better. I’m sure the commenter could explain to us all why he said the old studies are more informative:

    Anyways, so we learn together as a campus (Feel free to send me any articles on the topic, as I would learn to more. Right now I am studying the compromising (for this article) alternative of “speed helmets,” for those interested in preserving football).

    News Articles: (This right-leaning publication shows how recent studies have linked head injuries sustained during football can lead to cognitive function issues later). (“In NFL Brain Drain…an author discusses how more and more players current and retired are submitting their brains to further study on the effects football has on the brain). (Former Eastern Illinois college player and others initiate a class-action lawsuit on the NCAA for reasons relatedy). (The incidence of TBI’s has increased even amongst high school players. While it also has in college, shown in a few of the scholarly publications listed below, this article does not discuss college.) (an alum from this publication recently visited the campus-non seq-read the article) (discusses brain injuries at many levels)

    (well, brain injuries haunt football players years later) (Lou Gherig might not have had Lou Gherig’s disease if it was not for head trauma)

    Scholarly Publications: (NIH SUPPORTED RESEARCH-HELLO REYNARD) (“The NCAA Concussion Study” specifically analyzes collegiate football’s effects on the brain) (most Grinnell-related incidents would be subtle and more long-term, I expect.) (Grinnell has a turf football field) ( “Among all high school sports, football has the most injuries.” It’s the same for college sports. Concussions make up 10% of the injuries in the article physical injuries section). (neuro-behavioral outcomes following minor head trauma. Protect your heads) (“Catastrophic Cervical Spine Injuries in High School and College Football Players”) (Unreported Concussions on High school football players)
    /measurement_of_head_impacts_in_collegiate_football.22.aspx (About diagnosing head trauma resulting form football. Science has moved in a direction since the publication of this article, see our article and the discussion about the sports illustrated article).

    Here is a comedy central video of the same name, “Football: Brain Drain” :


    I hoped not offend, but I knew I would. I also hoped discussion of this article would not fall to speculative arguments about our intentions. We both love football, attend the games, and summarily agree that it’s time to retire the game at Grinnell College until changes are made.

    If you disagree, that does not make us haters or personal assailants. We are thinkers with whom you disagree. So be it. But please limit the discussion to Neuroscience and budget– not cunning linguists, or statements that equate an Opinion article about an athletic team that played its first game in 1889 to the social descriptor that compelled some of the college’s founders to aid the Underground Railroad and John Brown. Football and race (or sexual-orientation) are disanalagous, particularly as it pertains to our discussion. If that relationship interests you, maybe you are interested in some of the racial disparities in college football’s operation. Read this article not ours:

    It’s sad that our argument has been misinterpreted and charged with veiled hate-mongering. Anyone with anything constructive to say should, again, put your names with your comments, as well your e-mails. That is a charge that may influence readers when they read your comments. I’m sure plenty of people will have things to say about me and would love to break this article apart for all it’s imperfections.

    Final note, this campus has recently been hurt by a serious accident involving brain trauma, so trust me when I say that we take the matter of brain injuries very serious. Both authors also recently suffered Traumatic Brain Injuries, but by grace we survived to write this article to propose a theoretical limit to concussions, highlighting the largest group of students that routinely engage in a school sanctioned activity that increases, in the greatest ratio, the probability of causing a long-term cognitive hindrances.

    This, honestly, is the culmination of a quite extensive study. Please take this seriously.

    Apart from all the harm this has caused member’s of the community, I hope readers think about this article for a moment.

    Thank you

  • Y

    Young Cocoa ButterDec 12, 2011 at 3:01 am

    Blastoise, let’s break down your argument:
    “I’m still trying to understand how it’s even relevant to this conversation that a few members of the football team have made poor decisions in the past?”
    -So it’s not important, then there’s no need to talk about it…
    “Not only is it statistically significant, its logically fallacious to associate those actions with the football team at-large. The football team did not make said mistakes, per se (non-football player here), individuals did.”
    -Right, individuals on the football team.
    “The fact that they were football players is as relevant as the fact that they belonged to any other group.”
    -Just one group, the football team.
    “Such mistakes are not isolated to football players, nor have they ever been systemic among football players–and even if they were, correlation is not causation, obviously.”
    -Obviously. You don’t understand what “correlation is not causation” means. The football team had a party, a team party, where they objectified and demeaned female members of our community. No other group or individuals created and participated in that event or any other like it. To say “even if they were” implies that “such mistakes” are in fact “systemic among football players”, yet that can’t be true because “correlation is not causation, obviously.” By your own words, that’s “logically fallacious”.
    “On the whole, I believe football players are far better behaved the mean of Grinnell College students. Their cost of misbehaving is so much higher than the average student’s.”
    -the mean? Nice pun, but I think you got a few members bringing down your average as evidenced by last night, Also, proof of this cost of misbehaving? Have you ever had all your funding cut like GCCF?
    “And could someone please justify the budgetary argument with actual numbers? How can one claim football receives too large a portion of the budget (whatever that means) without quantifying the budget and defining that proportion?”

    -I agree, this discussion really needs a factual grounding.


  • U

    Unoriginal Masturbation PunDec 12, 2011 at 2:39 am

    1) Although this article sounds very thoughtful no doubt and has some very persuading bias thoughts. I don’t have much time, but let me just point out a CLEAR flaw it possesses.

    1) Before you can play football in the NCAA you sign this piece of paper.
    2) On this piece of paper it says something like this,
    “Institutions shall have a concussion management plan on file
    such that a student-athlete who exhibits signs, symptoms or
    behaviors consistent with a concussion shall be removed from
    practice or competition and evaluated by an athletics healthcare
    provider with experience in the evaluation and management of
    concussion. Student-athletes diagnosed with a concussion shall
    not return to activity for the remainder of that day. Medical
    clearance shall be determined by the team physician or their
    designee according to the concussion management plan.

    In addition, student-athletes must sign a statement in which they
    accept the responsibility for reporting their injuries and illnesses to
    the institutional medical staff, including signs and symptoms of
    concussions. During the review and signing process student-
    athletes should be presented with educational material on
    concussions” (Runkle).
    There was a time when football was much more dangerous and the equipment failed to sufficiently protect football players. In response to the danger one faces competing in a modern program, no action is forced upon players, the equipment has far advanced and will continue to advance, and every athlete is monitored closely. Make no mistake, there was a time when football players wore leather helmets and injuries were much more prevalent, and I am not saying there is not a risk today, but this article is degrading football, and is not motivated by the arguments it possesses. In my opinion, this article is motivated by a couple bored students on campus….. with nothing better to do then to try and boost their ego by writing this article packed with random “facts” , and sitting behind their computer screens watching others react to this petty bullshit. It kills me to even be responding because I know this is what the authors wanted, but I had to point out the clear bias misconception that surrounds the tone of this article.

    On a side note… how does this sound… WHY DONT WE GET RID OF SOCCER????

    New dangers discovered for soccer players that frequently “head” the ball

    New York Times, December 7, 2011

    Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York recently found that adult soccer players who frequently “head” the ball can develop brain abnormalities similar to those found in traumatic brain injury patients, reported the New York Times.

    The researchers found that players who “head” the ball more than 1,100 times a year are more likely to show significant loss of white matter in parts of the brain related to memory, when compared with players who “head” the ball less often. Players that “head” the ball more were also much worse at remembering lists of words read to them.

    “Based on these results, it does look like there is a potential for significant effects on the brain from frequent heading,” said Dr. Michael L. Lipton, associate director of the Gruss Magnetic Resonance Research Center at Einstein and senior author of the study.

    There are still many questions that remain unanswered, however, including how “heading” the ball affects youth athletes, according to the Times.

    “On the one hand, kids’ brains are developing fast, so they might experience more problems” than adults, said Dr. Lipton. “On the other hand, their brains are renowned for their plasticity, so maybe they’ll recover better. We just don’t know.”

  • B

    BlastoiseDec 12, 2011 at 2:02 am

    *statistically insignificant, I mean.

  • B

    BlastoiseDec 12, 2011 at 2:01 am

    I’m still trying to understand how it’s even relevant to this conversation that a few members of the football team have made poor decisions in the past? Not only is it statistically significant, its logically fallacious to associate those actions with the football team at-large. The football team did not make said mistakes, per se (non-football player here), individuals did. The fact that they were football players is as relevant as the fact that they belonged to any other group. Such mistakes are not isolated to football players, nor have they ever been systemic among football players–and even if they were, correlation is not causation, obviously. On the whole, I believe football players are far better behaved the mean of Grinnell College students. Their cost of misbehaving is so much higher than the average student’s.

    And could someone please justify the budgetary argument with actual numbers? How can one claim football receives too large a portion of the budget (whatever that means) without quantifying the budget and defining that proportion?

    Sounds like smoke in mirrors.

    Also, I’m curious where Mr. Goldsmith gets the idea that academics isn’t the first priority of the college. That’s hyperbole at its finest.

  • C

    ChrisDec 12, 2011 at 1:24 am

    I agree with others’ assertions that the authors’ ostensible concerns for football players’ health belie their true intentions of disbanding the football team out of contempt for their lifestyles. If the authors were truly concerned about health and the so-called brain drain, why stop at football? Why not eliminate campus-funded parties known for heavy drinking, like 10/10 and Block Party? Why not demolish South Campus, do away with self-gov, and enact a heavily enforced zero-tolerance drug policy?

    A few individual members of the football team have made questionable decisions in the past, but does that justify stripping an entire team of funding? If the football team, as a group, is complicit in poor decision-making why not implement a zero-tolerance probationary period instead of a complete dismantling? All in all, the authors’ opinions are short-sighted at best and discriminatory at worst.

  • P

    Proud Football PlayerDec 12, 2011 at 1:20 am

    It took me a few minutes to write this so it may be slightly behind topic.
    I am very disappointed in the rhetoric used throughout these comments, as I have read every one of them and can see that some of our less informed commenters have not, especially those that call out the football team in such diminutive ways. That being said, the article only makes one relevant point and that is football costs money, everything else in the article is not and only causes discourse as can be noted from various other comments from both sides pertaining to race, intelligence, and sexual orientation. As for the health factors related to football, first muscle is more dense than fat and thus less muscle weighs the same as a lot of fat. Second, I do not believe it to be very American to try to justify depriving someone of an activity they love purely because it can potentially lead to negative side effects. This argument would be synonymous with making every pharmaceutical drug on the market illegal because every one of them has some potentially negative or even fatal side effect. I know readers of this will comment and say that “yes football is a personal choice but it shouldn’t be funded by the college;” however the primary difference between football and other sports is not the risk of injury, and it is not the money, It is because football CAN NOT be played as a casual sport on the weekends like any other. This is the reason why the only “adult” football league is the NFL or other professional leagues. There is no such thing as adult contact rec-football because football is a sport that requires dedication both physically AND MENTALLY and cannot be a casual activity that one does on the weekends with a group of work buddies. In this regard football is special and an institution like Grinnell having a football program is another way of showing the world that these athletes are just as capable of being exceptional students as anyone else, and that the stereotype of being fat and stupid is nothing but ignorant.
    I would also like to add that the majority of comments relating to how members of the football team are physically intimidating, less intelligent, misogynistic, and homophobic are outrageously immature and inaccurate; how many of you (the commenters in question) have been personally attacked face to face by a football player and how many of you are hearing about theses “claimed” atrocities and misbehaviors from the second, third, or fourth person down the line, because the fish always gets bigger. And I know someone will read this and immediately comment about the incident two years ago, but they defeated their own argument, that was two years ago. The team in question has made huge strides since then and I would need a reminder on the last time the team was in trouble. In fact the football team does more community service than most if not all other institutionalized programs.
    Also the average team GPA is about a 3.0, which is at minimum on par with the school average if not better. Yes there may be “pushes” by coaches and funding by alums for some recruits, but this has less to do with their intellectual ability and being “unqualified” than to do with their financial ability to afford to attend such a prestigious institution like Grinnell. So I will ask, is it right to actively discriminate the services of this diverse institution against these individuals? I didn’t think so…
    And lastly, I do recognize that there is a divide on this campus between athletes and non-athletes and especially football players. However, it is definitely without a doubt more of an issue of the campus alienating the football team than it is the football team alienating themselves from the rest of campus. For example, I know several players that at the beginning of each semester do not disclose to other students in their classes, or even their professors, that they are football players for fear of being ostracized and assumptions being made about them as people without any prior interaction.
    The members of the football team are genuinely good people, they did the same admissions character interview as everyone else at this institution and I think that it is time for the hateful and disrespectful remarks against the football team as a whole to end; Perhaps then some of the misconceptions that the campus has against the team can be rectified through open and respectful discussion. Someone has to move first in this issue and I know firsthand that the members of the football team would happily listen to the suggestions of their peers if they were not being continuously personally attacked.
    In response to the comment by a Brian Silberberg:
    There was no comparison between being a football player and being black/gay, there was only the establishment of a synonymy about being hated and disrespected by a majority, not for who you are but for what you are, in this case the campus majority and the football team. And as for the implication that members of the football team are responsible for the recent rash of thefts; several of the victims are football players and I KNOW FOR A FACT that no member of that team would steal from one of their brothers, not even to mention theft to the extent that these players experienced. So you should really validate your information before openly accusing them of such things.

  • A

    And I don't even play a sportDec 11, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    This is not so much a critique of this article, but a critique of the student body in general. I am very upset by the closed mindedness of a good portion of this school. Athletes (even football players) are not inherently evil. Yes, they may have different interests and views than you, but that does not mean every single one of them is a sexist bonehead. Every group has a few bad apples, even you and your friends.
    That being said, yes football is dangerous. Every athletes who participates knows that they are putting themselves at risk by playing the game. It is their own decision. This is similar to the decisions many students at this school make when putting them self at risk by drinking and doing drugs on a frequent basis. As long as you are aware of the potential harms, you should be allowed to make your own decision.
    However, what I am most upset about is the divide between athletes and non-athletes on this campus. I came to Grinnell with the belief that being a Grinnellian symbolized a strong sense of unity and camaraderie with your fellow peers. I have come to learn that I was completely mistaken. This divide has caused me to despise Grinnell enough to justify transferring to another college despite initially loving Grinnell. So you who proposed in a previous comment that removing the football team would also remove anyone who supports them, congratulations, you already got rid of myself by simply repetitively targeting the team (and athletes in general).
    Yes, they may not be angels, but please Grinnell, stop using the football team as scapegoats for all of your angst.

  • J

    Jacob GoldsmithDec 11, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    This institution, Grinnell College, is going through a time of change. We have a new president with new agendas and that means that sub-institutions within the College are going to have to change as well. Over the past couple of years, at least the three that I have been here, players on the football team have made decisions that resulted in the belittling of others on campus. If they (solely those players, not the team as a whole) feel it acceptable to demean and injure (both physically and emotional) others on campus, then they should be prepared for the backlash discourse that has obviously arisen through this article. The extreme defensiveness of some of the comments on this article show that the opinions of the authors have struck a nerve among those who play football and those who support the players. This nerve is there because of what has transpired in the last couple of years where the football team has alienated itself from the larger Grinnell campus. Should the football team be disbanded? well probably not. However, the budget for the football team should be taken into extreme consideration. It is unfair for the rest of the student body when large amounts of funding are spent on one group of people and academics as a whole are ignored. Just look at the ultimate frisbee team. They are not recognized as a varsity sport by the College and yet they continue to excel within their division. They have also not been associated with events, like the football team has, that have offended many other students at Grinnell. Maybe we should look into removing the football team from the list of Varsity sports. Who knows, it might even help their standing?

    What I am trying to say is that at the end of the day Grinnell College is just that, a College. Academics need to take precedent over all extracurricular activities. With the football team, this school has lost that focus and budgets need to be reevaluated. It does not help the football teams case that there have been many things done by football players that go strictly against everything that this school stands for.

  • K

    Kevin McConnaughay '10Dec 11, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    When I first read this, I found myself upset and dismayed, and was preparing to write a thorough and hard-hitting response.

    But then I forgot what was going on, and made myself a protein shake.

  • O

    Once upon a timeDec 11, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    I am going to assume the author did not write this to further his wants or needs to get rid of the Grinnell football program and instead assume he is generally concerned with his fellow students well being. However, that being said the author clearly lacks any athletic experience and does not understand the full picture. It is unfair to read something and act as if you are now a master of the subject matter. Is football a violent sport? Yes. So is cutting football from Grinnell the answer? God no. From a purely athletic standpoint, changes in the game, at both the professional and collegiate level, are being made to make the game safer. This includes suspensions and having players re-learn how to tackle to protect the players on the field (ex. not leading with their heads). The NFL and NCAA have also spent millions of dollars on research on how to better protect the players with the equipment they wear as well as enforcing strict concussion rules to protect the players. Bottom line football has been and always will be a violent game. However, participates of the sport are aware of these studies and know what they are getting into when signing up to play. Now, one could argue the defense that the players simply think it will never happen to me. However, being a college football player myself I can confidently say me and my teammates knew the risks we were taking every time we stepped on the field, but they did not worry me. You see, what the author fails to mention is the small percentage of players who do suffer brain trauma. Now it is unfortunate that any percent would have this happen to them but compared to all the players that play in high school, college, and professional levels the percentage is minuscule. However, when it does happen because it is a sad story it blows up in your face and is all over the media. In my 12 years of playing I never once sustained a concussion but I did have my share of bruises, and broken bones from football. However, if I could go back and do it all over again I would! Football is a great game and there is a feeling you get when playing that is indescribable. So to wrap this up, even if Grinnell does cut its football program it will not stop these “critical issues” as the players will just go elsewhere to play because they love the game. I know personally the only reason I came to Grinnell was to play football. So from another stand point Grinnell would lose about 70 students, some who Grinnell should be honored to have graduate from their college, to other universities. It is a shame that someone reads one of the many articles out there on the dangers of football and deems themselves an expert. It is even sadder that they further a ludicrous idea by getting rid of one of the best attractions Grinnell can offer.

  • T

    Transfer StudentDec 11, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Football is not the only athletic contest that, if played over an extended period of time, deteriorates the body. In actuality, EVERY sport wears down the human figure – hence why it is so important that athletes train the way that they do. Grinnell College’s athletics programs (all of them) have made exceptions for particular students. Singling out the football team is intellectually irresponsible given the fairness with which we should treat this discussion.

    To the students who argue that inferior applicants are accepted into the college: That is true of any school with athletics programs. Grinnell is a place where open-mindedness and self governance drive the student body (as well as the faculty ranks). Marcus Eagan and Thomas Neil implicitly state that Grinnell’s reputation would somehow elevate were they to drop the sport. That is unfounded; if schools like Duke University, Stanford University, Northwestern, every Ivy League institution, and others didn’t have football programs, Mr. Neil and Mr. Eagan might have something to work with.

  • D

    DisgustedDec 11, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    What a dreadful article. The superficiality of the concerned-about-football-players’-health argument is despicable, and that argument itself constitutes a threat to liberty at Grinnell no conscientious student should support. Talk to any group of students on any Sunday morning and you’ll hear of countless dangerous acts undertaken the night before–illicit drugs, unprotected sex, alcohol (often underage), etc. On any weekday you’ll note multiple people outside the JRC smoking cigarettes. Were the school to ban every activity that entailed health risks life as a student would be confined to one’s dorm room. Fortunately, the tendency is to let students be adults, make their own decisions regarding their health risks, and endure the consequences of those decisions.

    Of course, the authors aren’t talking about banning dangerous activities ‘in general.’ And the article really has nothing to do with any health concerns. It’s simply a misguided, veiled attack on football players.

    It is sickening how willing the student community–one that purports to avoid categorical generalizations–is to attack individuals based on membership to groups not listed under Concerned for Concerned Student’s “protected” groups.

    Such hypocrisy is infectious at Grinnell. The article is hardly intellectual; it’s disguised bigotry of the sort routinely accepted by the student population at Grinnell.

    The budgetary arguments are equally superficial. Why not call for cutting all extracurricular activities? I’d still disagree with you, but I’d praise your consistency. As of yet, there hasn’t been a single quantifiably substantiated argument about football’s portion of the budget. Nor has there been a single quantifiably substantiated argument regarding the intellectual acumen of student-athletes, and football players, in particular. There is this pervasive myth at Grinnell that athletes arrive as sub-par academicians–it’s fiction. It’s mere apologetics for other insecurities.

  • P

    Poop HeadDec 11, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    I am going to assume the author did not write this to further his wants or needs to get rid of the Grinnell football program and instead assume he is generally concerned with his fellow students well being. However, that being said the author clearly lacks any athletic experience and does not understand the full picture. It is unfair to read something and act as if you are now a master of the subject matter. Is football a violent sport? Yes. So is cutting football from Grinnell the answer? God no. From a purely athletic standpoint, changes in the game, at both the professional and collegiate level, are being made to make the game safer. This includes suspensions and having players re-learn how to tackle to protect the players on the field (ex. not leading with their heads). The NFL and NCAA have also spent millions of dollars on research on how to better protect the players with the equipment they wear as well as enforcing strict concussion rules to protect the players. Bottom line football has been and always will be a violent game. However, participates of the sport are aware of these studies and know what they are getting into when signing up to play. Now, one could argue the defense that the players simply think it will never happen to me. However, being a college football player myself I can confidently say me and my teammates knew the risks we were taking every time we stepped on the field, but they did not worry me. You see, what the author fails to mention is the small percentage of players who do suffer brain trauma. Now it is unfortunate that any percent would have this happen to them but compared to all the players that play in high school, college, and professional levels the percentage is minuscule. However, when it does happen because it is a sad story it blows up in your face and is all over the media. In my 12 years of playing I never once sustained a concussion but I did have my share of bruises, and broken bones from football. However, if I could go back and do it all over again I would! Football is a great game and there is a feeling you get when playing that is indescribable. So to wrap this up, even if Grinnell does cut its football program it will not stop these “critical issues” as the players will just go elsewhere to play because they love the game. I know personally the only reason I came to Grinnell was to play football. So from another stand point Grinnell would lose about 70 students, some who Grinnell should be honored to have graduate from their college, to other universities. It is a shame that someone reads one of the many articles out there on the dangers of football and deems themselves an expert. It is even sadder that they further a ludicrous idea by getting rid of one of the best attractions Grinnell can offer.

  • S

    Saturday night observerDec 11, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    One interesting and new development in this situation happened this weekend when the Grinnell football team reacted to this article in a way that ironically gives even more precedence to the issues that have been brought up thus far. On Saturday night, the two authors of this article were confronted by members of the football team. By confronted, I mean that they were surrounded and verbally assaulted by several players, who commenced to yell obscenities and voice their false accusations. If members of the football team take issue with the point that has been brought up in this article–and I mean this exact article, not whatever perceived intentions surround the article–then they should address these concerns in an academic and professional style. I find it unacceptable that this is the only response that I have seen from the football team up to this point. I would like the football team to show Grinnell why they should be here and why the program is a positive contributor the the community as a whole. Right now, I see only aggression and anger being perpetuated by the team as an entity; I thus ask for members of the team that don’t identify with this aggressive mentality (if you actually exist) to step up and show the Grinnell community that the football team has something positive to offer.

  • A

    AlumDec 11, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    First off, as a former football player, I’m very aware of recent studies concerning head trauma. However, if you’ll notice the dates of these studies, not only were they published several years ago, the actual research was done a while back as well. The technology of football helmets has advanced tremendously in the last 5 years. Additionally, recent studies have found that soccer is equally as dangerous. The big hits are not the ones that do players in, it’s the constant contact. Soccer headers do all sorts of damage. And Colorado College’s dropping of football had absolutely nothing to do with health concerns.

    The point of this article though was clearly not written concerning the health of student athletes. It used health as a mask, obviously not a very good one, to attack the culture of the football team and the financial burden it puts on the school. The football team does have a large budget, probably the biggest, however, it also provides opportunities for lots of students. If you do a little research on Title IX, one of the key requirements is equal roster opportunities to both males and females. Although this is normally applied the other way, Grinnell would have to cut roughly 50 roster spots to women’s athletics in order to stay in compliance.

    When you attack the academic qualifications of the football team, think about what they do. These players commit more time to practice and meetings and off-season training than any other group on campus, I guarantee that. If you don’t believe me, well you’re just wrong, look into it. So while many of you Grinnellians come home after class, shoot the shit on Mac field for a while, these guys are putting in a ton of time. So while some might not meet the standards of you elitist, library dwelling students, they’re working so hard to manage all of their academic and athletic requirements.

    For those of you that are stupid enough to think that 50 members of the football team are “lowering your academic experience” need to realize the problem is you. You know why Grinnell is dropping in the ranks? Applications are way down. Go poke your head around in admissions, they’ll let you know we’re missing out on many of the elite students because they’re not looking at Grinnell. And more importantly, Grinnell as an institution is bigger than any of us. You know what school offers more intercollegiate athletic teams in the US (and I’ll admit, this is based on my own experience and facts I learned when applying a few years back)? Harvard. What’s Grinnell’s nickname, Harvard of the midwest? If you want to be considered a top tier school, more goes into than a few douche bags who think they’re smarter than everyone else.

  • A

    AlumnDec 11, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Why stop at football. Every sport should be cut. The athletic buildings should be torn down (In a green way of course). There is no need for Bucksbaum. There is no reason to have a graduation ceremony. If we really want to get rid of harmful institutions then all of South Campus should be torn down and Harris should be turned into an anti-alcohol forum.

  • A

    AlumnusDec 11, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Several points:

    1. If the football team is cut then other teams would have to be cut due to title 9. There are about 46 football players so you would have to cut 46 female athletes as well which would mean cutting women’s swimming, women’s cross country, or volleyball and softball.

    2. Football is a dangerous when poor technique is used. If you were to lower your head and run into something you would probably get a concussion too. However, when players don’t lead with their heads they don’t get hurt.

    3. The comments about race have some interesting issues behind them. There are different admissions standards for athletes. There are also different admissions standards for minorities. Should minorities not be allowed into Grinnell because they cannot meet your admissions standards?

  • A

    AlumDec 11, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    This article and the comments made make me ashamed to have gone to Grinnell. Get over yourselves. You don’t like the injuries don’t play. For some of us the injuries were worth it, its hard to explain but I wouldn’t change a thing about my playing experience. The game is beautiful to those that have dedicated themselves to the game and to their teammates. I’m sorry that many of you do not understand and may never get get to feel the passion and love the game can provide. The budget at Grinnell is not an issue. Let it go, you want more money for something go ask for it, go raise money for it. Don’t take it from another program. Also athletic scholarships do not happen at Grinnell, thats just bitter people talking. The obese facts are time and time again ridiculous. BMI is most common used measurement and does not take into account muscle mass. Most football players are in better shape then you can even imagine, yes even the ones that don’t look fit. My advice to the Grinnell students right now, do what you do, enjoy what you do and who you are, and quit worrying about others. Too many Grinnell students are so concerned about others they forget to enjoy their time in Grinnell. Relax, college is a fun place to pursue your interests and let others pursue theirs as well.

  • R

    Really, Delilah?Dec 11, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    “Fuck the football team yo.”

    I can’t even believe you can just throw that out there. You cannot lump the entire team in one category. Why not just say fuck the Gtones, fuck the pioneer diversity council, or fuck the fellowship of christian athletes. Believe it or not, football players belong to all of these groups. Putting aside the original article, this kind of an attack is ludicrous. As a concerned student I found the article and responses interesting and for the most part well thought out, but when I read Delilah’s post I felt the need to add a comment. Yes, I have met some asses that are a part of the football team, but I have met many more through studies that have made me positively inclined to this campus group. These guys put in just as much work in the classroom, but then spend hours every day devoted to their sport.

  • S

    StephDec 11, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    I really do not understand why so many people at this school dislike the football team to the extent they would like to see the program disbanded. Yes, they have done some questionable things in the past; however, at least half (if any) of the men currently on the team have had absolutely no part in those events. Look at the people on the team now, not those of the past. Any program can be turned around, and considering I’ve grown up in Grinnell and now attend the College, I have heard about the main events that have happened over the years. The current coaches and players alike take much care in running a positive program and turning their reputation around. Is everyone on the team academically incapable? Absolutely not. Just last year a senior on the team had the highest GPA of any student-athlete at the school. Do a few individuals make some socially questionable decisions every once in awhile? Yes, but I guarantee you have too, so consider that before you knock a team down that does not deserve it whatsoever. I feel as though many people are judging based on stereotypes, and is that not what Grinnell tries to avoid?

    As for the budget cut aspect of this argument, the football team most definitely does not have the largest budget of all athletic teams (or all programs/activites if we expand past just sports teams). It is ridiculous to propose cutting an entire program instead of making smaller cuts across the board first. Singling out a specific team is obviously (in my opinion) an attack on that team, not a legitimate, well meaning suggestion.

  • A

    Ann OnimousDec 11, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    This article is a collateral attack on the football team hidden behind a thinly-veiled argument regarding well being. Student athletes as a whole perform better than the student body on average. This includes football. The cumulative GPA of the football team is better than that of the Grinnell community as a whole. An attempt to put down football as a “brain-drain” and how football players brought down the academic prestige of the college was made previously in the 1980’s. President RKO shown the exact same statistic as previously mentioned. It was true then, and it is still true now. Also, if you’re examining student well-being how bout mention drug use on campus? All-Nighters? Adderol? or how about the Dining Hall’s calorie rich food? Also, if they cut football a female sport must go as well, most likely volleyball, in order to comply with Title IX.

  • O

    oy veyDec 11, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    “as the most expensive and dangerous sport the school has it should be first in line among the athletic programs for these sorts of cuts”

    Last I checked the most recent (And most likely only) death in Grinnell athletics was a tragic pole-vaulting accident, nothing to do with football.

    “The team needs to consider this and try to root out these nasty parts of their image, especially since the school is in a period of considering budget cuts. I do believe that the majority part of the team, that aren’t a part of the grievances I’ve listed that people tend to have with the team will take control of the situation and improve the team’s reputation on campus, and look forward to that day”

    Give it another year, hopefully less. The last football coach recruited kids who simply did not fit in at Grinnell. For instance, I believe there were 20-something football players in the original 2013 recruiting class (the last football coaches last recruiting class), now there are only 7 left at Grinnell on the football team. He left after just 2 years here and thankfully the current head coach is a Grinnell alum who understands this very issue within the football team. The kids recruited have and will continue to reflect this change in the football team over the next few years.

    “there are many members that far too often engage in acts of sexual harassment, homophobia, and physical intimidation”

    This gives me the feeling that the authors and people commenting have overheard conversations in the dining hall or seen students who play football engaging in these acts. This is an outrage and should be brought to the attention of the administration/judicial council. However, it is the failure of self-governance for anyone witnessing such an act that does not follow up with either “calling the person out”, at the very least, or more ideally utilizing the judicial process. Something as serious as these allegations certainly is deserving of an official reprimand/suspension/expulsion from the school. Simply listening to a football player comment in a sexist/harassing/insert your own negative act here way about someone else and letting these experiences build up until you write a letter to the editor of the S & B is cowardesque. If you believe a student-athlete or ANYONE is harassing someone else in any way then stand up and make a statement right then and there, don’t single out the football team as a whole. This simply does not solve the problem.

    Lastly, I do not mean to defend the football team. Cunnilingus was and is a stain on the reputation of the football team. They deserve some sort of kick back from the student body as a whole, but at what point do we as Grinnellians move on? By all means, if someone has a specific event that has happened THIS semester dealing with the football team acting inappropriately I would love to hear about it. As far as I know they have made active efforts to clean up their act, albeit some black sheep have strayed from time to time. Any negative actions by football players this semester, to the best of my knowledge, has been nothing more than unsubstantiated rumors. When do we stop taking the actions of a few as representing the football team as a whole?

  • L

    Lil B the Based GodDec 11, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    This is the bottom line: if any Grinnell student steals ANYTHING from another Grinnell student, they no longer belong at this school. However, the problem is that it is nearly impossible to build a case against those who have stolen things. I will list off the facts, for those of you who don’t already know:

    -There have been numerous incidents of theft on campus. Usually, the items stolen were things that are difficult to track or unwise to report, such as cash, drugs, and drug paraphernalia.

    -On several occasions, certain members of the football team (if you don’t know who, just ask, its very common knowledge at this point) have been caught in the act of stealing from other people. However, how can you report that to security or the cops? They have to take you at your word. We don’t have security cameras on this campus so nothing can actually be proven.

    -A large amount of thefts occurred over Thanksgiving break, while most of the school was gone. These individuals stayed in Grinnell during that time.

    -Even those who have been WITNESSED stealing deny any and all allegations, claiming that they are being victimized by a campaign of lies.

    How can we build a case against these individuals? They are actively destroying the very foundations of self-gov, and consequently, the entire ethos of the college. The accusations against these certain well-known members of the football team are not baseless – they are indisputable fact. I cannot claim that ALL thefts that have occurred were committed by these individuals, but that would certainly not be an unreasonable assumption.

    As far as a defense of the football team at large… It is true that many of them may be “upstanding individuals,” and not involved in the thefts directly. However, many of these individuals nonetheless engaged in the cunnilingus party scandal. For those of you who don’t know what happened, I’ll sum it up: they put jello shots in bowls and labelled each bowl with the name of a different Grinnellian girl, and ate the jello from the bowls with their mouths. I don’t really feel the need to explain why that is fucked up.

    A Christian group on campus lost school funding when they refused to allow a homosexual to be elected to a leadership position. Why the football team has yet to lose its funding is infuriating, and demonstrates a blatant bias in the administration. We are allowing individuals onto this campus that threaten its institutional values. This can no longer continue. Grinnell is first and foremost a COLLEGE – an institution of higher education. Sports should be nowhere near as high as they currently are on the college’s list of financial priorities.

    Especially D3 sports… D3 is “the fun league.” It’s not like any of these kids are actually going pro. It’s simple economics: if you are good enough to make money, you go to a school that can give you a scholarship. Why keep investing so much money in “fun?” I’m not saying we should eliminate sports by any means. I love sports. But if the budget is coming under review, it seems very obvious to me where the fat should be cut.

  • E

    Emily EvansDec 11, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    A few years ago, I would have wholeheartedly agreed with the argument of Saddened Student, who petitions for the respectful education of those who are “misguided and ignorant.” However, in the last few years, our college has attempted to do just this, but to no avail. In response to incidents like “Cunnelingus,” the administration mandated sensitivity training football players. Additionally, the Pioneer Diversity Council was formed. The council’s President, Mr. Ki Harris ’14, writes that the council aims to foster “understanding and open-minded[ness] towards people of different races, genders, social statuses, backgrounds, and creeds” and hopes to give students a “chance to come together and broaden their horizons” (Harris). While these institutions have been put in place, I personally feel as though they have failed us and that the schism between the two groups has never been greater.

    Additionally, why should the standards of admission to this college be lowered for the athletically gifted when our own mission statement dictates that our college “exists to provide a lively academic community of students… of high scholarly qualifications” (Mission Statement)?

    Works Cited

    Harris, Ki. “Pioneer Diversity Council.” Grinnell. Grinnell College. Web. 11 Dec. 2011. .

    “Mission Statement.” Grinnell College, Feb. 2002. Web. 11 Dec. 2011. .

  • G

    GC PrideDec 11, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Everybody needs to grow up here. Stop talking shit on one another. Ya my sister pisses me off at times but no matter what she is my sister and I will always love her. Yes there were times I wish my parents got rid of her, but we’re family. We are all Grinnellians. We are a family on this campus and we need to start acting like it. Maybe we should try fixing the issue instead of simply shunning a group from campus. Yes it may be a tough process but everybody got into Grinnell because they can take on challenges and enjoy solving problems.

    Maybe we should focus on the drug problem on campus before the physical health of football players if health issues are such a concern.

  • A

    A Student BodyDec 11, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    We suggest that the football team should be cut if one of its players does not identify those responsible for the thefts on campus because the entire team knows who the culprits are.

    We know who some of you are because you were caught red-handed.

    Perhaps the closet-homosexual student on the team who is afraid of being alienated by his teammates should be the one inform administrators. “Yo, fuck the football team” because some of your teammates, who must represent the authors’ unrespected few, conflated your sexuality with their choice to play football. What possibility is hurting you more, closeting you sexuality for some of the best years of your life or ending your football career until the question of neuroscience is dealt with.

    But this is not really related to the article, which focuses on budget and Neuroscience

  • F

    First YearDec 11, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    I am astounded by the baseless presumptions about the intellect of the football team. For a school that prides itself on rejecting harmful and prejudice stereotypes, many here seem eager to perpetuate the image of the “meat head jock”. While there is certainly a conversation that needs to happen about the behavior of all athletic teams, this article is noting more than an attempt to legitimize a personal animosity the authors have against the football team.

  • B

    Brian SilberbergDec 11, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    I think this article raises perfectly valid points and that the people who are calling it out for not being in the spirit of diversity or that other sports have risk of injuries as well are missing the point. The main point is that Grinnell’s money would be best spent in pursuit of academic endeavors, that before those go on the chopping block we should consider other avenues (like athletics), and that football represents an expensive sport with high risk of injury (aka it has heavy costs in multiple ways). Also, comparing playing football to being Black or Gay is completely ludicrous; playing football is a game we play as a luxury and a choice, being Black and Gay are not. The way you describe your right to play a school subsidized season of football is as if it was some kind of human right, and seems to imply that other students are being overly entitled for holding say the humanities above it in their list of importance. When I keep seeing comments talking about how this is a case of a lifestyle coming under fire I’m honestly flabbergasted; despite my love for football and the fact that it’s easily my favorite sport I still would never go so far as to say a game is a full on lifestyle, especially since (a) if its a central part of your identity you can play it anyway, without it being paid for by the school and (b) most lifestyles (all?) don’t require being subsidized by the people living around it to exist. Football costs money. Compared to other sports or hobbies, it costs an incredible amount of money. It is not a right, it is a privilege and a luxury, one that we should be thankful to have, but aware of its high financial costs especially if the school is considering putting other programs under the axe.
    Also, to the alum that wants to consider the benefits of the team, I agree with you in the sense that it doesn’t necessarily have to be all or nothing, but at this present time the team is doing itself a great disservice when it comes to the benefits the average Grinnellian can list that the team brings them. It’s an open secret that trustee scholarships are given to players (of multiple teams), and that they are actively recruited, which comes out to over six figures per student receiving that over their time at Grinnell. And for the couple of hundred thousand dollars spent on this the team finds its name marred by several scandals, connections with multiple players being involved in break-ins, thefts and assaults. While it is obviously unfair to pin this on most of the team (and almost everyone on the team it should be said are not guilty of these issues) the job the team has done as a unit to seriously police these incidents or clean up their public image has been negligible at best. The team needs to consider this and try to root out these nasty parts of their image, especially since the school is in a period of considering budget cuts. I do believe that the majority part of the team, that aren’t a part of the grievances I’ve listed that people tend to have with the team will take control of the situation and improve the team’s reputation on campus, and look forward to that day. Still, even in that scenario I’d say certain kinds of cuts to the team might need to happen regardless, especially if academic budgets are in danger, and that as the most expensive and dangerous sport the school has it should be first in line among the athletic programs for these sorts of cuts.

  • D

    DelilahDec 11, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Why is no one talking about the first two paragraphs of this completely accurate letter? Football is bad for students physically, culturally, and bad for the school financially which is trading off with pursuits not run by meatheads for meatheads like the humanities (although it is more like run by white men for white men AM I RIGHT?!) Fuck the football team yo. Besides, by the time you cut the program you’ll also get rid of anyone who would complain about it and conflate playing sports with lifetimes of oppression. Win win.

  • D

    disappointedDec 11, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    I’m disappointing with these comments:

    “Your attack against the “BBC”? What does this entail? I don’t think the British Broadcasting Company affects the campus much at all, beyond informing us about the world. If you mean the BCC, the Black Cultural Center, then you should probably be more informed before making personalized attacks on one of the authors of this article.”

    “You also need a writing manual.”

    “If the school got rid of the BBC, how would we get our news?

    Are you kidding me kid?”

    “That is flat out the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard in my life.”

    I don’t see the difference between being physically intimidating and intellectually condescending. Fewer of the people who are “cheapening the quality of your education” and are “apart” from campus are going to step forward and engage in discourse if you are going to try to make them feel stupid. Humiliation, be it verbal or physical, is aggressive and not beneficial. Pretension is just another form of domination, and has no place in democratic discourse.

  • N

    Not ConvincedDec 11, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Also an Alum, it seems like you are assuming that I am a football player who doesn’t protect my head. I don’t have any particular connection to the football team, besides knowing a couple of upstanding students on the team. I see that you are trying to support your friend’s argument, but the fact that the authors have brain damage does not account for the fact that their arguments are flawed.

  • S

    Student, 2013Dec 11, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Why not just start a student initiative to do something else with the football budget? Even if the school doesn’t go along, the vote will be a statement by the student body as a whole, regardless of how they end up voting.

  • J

    Joe (also a student, also concerned, also critical)Dec 11, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    It seems that there are two issues at play here:
    – The health and wellness of football players
    – Concerns about the College’s institutional operation: potentially discriminatory and/or unfair recruitment and admissions practices, unequal budgetary allocations to the football team, & nondiscussion of the possibility of trimming the football budget amidst a general climate of budgetary austerity discourse
    ( – The idea that the football team–as an institutionally-sanctioned group distinct from the individuals that comprise it–is singularly homophobic/misogynist/violent is another topic, and an important one, but I think it deserves its own separate consideration)

    As to the first point, I think it’s certainly true that there has been a shameful lack of research into the long-term effects of contact football, in part because football is enormously profitable (esp for large universities and the pros) and those who make the lion’s share of the money are not the players; capital doesn’t tend to concern itself with the well-being of laborers once they have retired. There needs to be more investigation into the consequences of contact football so that players can make informed decisions about whether or not they want to play. That being said, if folks want to play football, I think they should be able to–lots of us take risks to do things we enjoy. Relatedly, “obesity” doesn’t necessarily mean ill health: I direct you to

    However, I don’t think it unreasonable for us to ask after the way that the College treats the football team (or any other group/organization/structure on campus). If it is true that our current operational practices are fiscally unsustainable, then football should not escape critical evaluation–just because people should be able to play football if they want to does not mean that the College should necessarily support them institutionally. Therefore, we ought to pose these sorts of questions: How much does the football program cost? How large is the football team? How do expenditures per player compare to those of other sports programs or extracurricular activities? Would it be feasible or desirable to move towards a club football program (à la Ultimate Frisbee)? How exactly does the admissions system favor football recruits, and what are the effects of those decisions on academics at Grinnell? Which staff members are supported by the football team, and how would they be affected by decisions about the football budget? How does the football program contribute to the core values of the College? How might it detract from those values, either directly or by using funds that could be put to other purposes?

    Of course, I reiterate: one could (and should) pose the same sorts of questions about other programs. For instance, I feel that there should have been a lot more conversation about the purpose and cost of the new Osgood Natatorium–would our resources have been better spent on, say, wind turbines?

    I applaud the authors of this article for broaching an important topic. May the conversation that follows be informed as well as impassioned, respectful even if heated.

  • C

    Concerned AlumDec 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    I know a lot of alums are really offended by this letter, but I think they need to know that the football team’s character and relationship to the rest of campus has changed drastically in the past few years. When I was a first year parties at white house were fun, safe, and included all different types of people. By the time I graduated, the football team was constantly involved in situations that directly offended and even threatened other groups on campus. I think this change needs to be acknowledged and discussed.

  • S

    saddened studentDec 11, 2011 at 4:49 am

    I am quite concerned with the rising level of animosity between two separate groups on campus. Hatred and ignorance are by no means the solution to any problem, let alone one at Grinnell. I do realize there have been instances of homophobic behavior among other problems. But shouldn’t one realize that at one point the bubble of Grinnell will fall victim to the harsh reality of modern society? that is by no means defending actions that discriminate against any individual, rather shouldn’t those who are misguided and ignorant be respectfully taught and educated on why they are such? there is absolutely no reason to eliminate any athletic activity from campus for the purpose of saving money-they have the same right to a diverse education as anyone. There must be, however, a systematic change in how athletes and non-athletes interact. On one hand, non-athletes must respect the dedication and sacrifice that athletes have in order to improve their lives. On the other, athletes must learn to live a life that does not put them in the spotlight.
    I am deeply concerned with the level of anger and hatred that has been so far displayed in the comment section. I just hope that one day there will be a mutually accepting community at Grinnell that both supports its athletes and academics.

    please consider my thoughts and reflect on them before you rush to your rash opinions and harsh criticisms as you have thus far.

    peace and love everyone. peace and love

  • A

    Also an alumDec 10, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    I know both writers of this article and both have suffered traumatic brain injuries, “not convinced.” Maybe you should take their argument more seriously and take serious steps to protect your head.

  • A

    annoyed studentDec 10, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    you sirs, seem to be quite selfish in that only students “like” you are allowed the opportunity to better themselves at Grinnell College. Why is it that a different lifestyle than yours must be taken away? Is it because you have had personal problems with members of the football team? Also, why hide behind an article that so shallowly claims to be concerned for the health of the players when it is obvious that you just want them to leave campus? You should reevaluate your argument and be more direct, rather than hiding behind a hollow concern.

  • C

    Clint WilliamsonDec 10, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    “These students are apart of our campus and community”–Concerned Student

    This misspelling on your part could not be more true. A divide most definitely exists on this campus: a divide between those who practice agressive, misogynist, homophobic, and separatist behaviors and those who attend this institution to both learn and engage within an academic body of peers. Your attack against the “BBC”? What does this entail? I don’t think the British Broadcasting Company affects the campus much at all, beyond informing us about the world. If you mean the BCC, the Black Cultural Center, then you should probably be more informed before making personalized attacks on one of the authors of this article. I was initially skeptical about this article, because I felt the abolition of the football team should stem from its anti-Grinnellian behavior observed time and again; however, after reading Concerned Student’s post, I think we as a student body should give these studies a little more credence by showing concern to neurological damages.

  • N

    Not ConvincedDec 10, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    It sounds like a large portion of the evidence is anecdotal. For example, “The scores of one lineman before and after the preseason were examined, and he scored 20% lower on the visual memory section of the IMPACT test, which requires rapid identification of recurring patterns. Other players also fared particularly poorly on the test. And the scariest find of the entire study? Four players were categorized as ‘functionally impaired’ with apparent symptoms of which none the four were cognizant.” These few players might not have had a full nights sleep before the test, to name just one possible confounding variable. The football team always has multiple academic all-conference students and this article is not convincing.

    Also, you cannot establish a causal relationship between playing football and becoming obese. Football attracts large, muscular players who are typically gym rats. The BMI metric for obesity is based purely on body weight and height and could place a healthy muscular person in the obese category. They are working out as much as any other students on campus and claiming that football is making them unhealthy is a horribly flawed conclusion. Football makes a player work out and become stronger.

    Maybe a more reliable article could be written about drug-abuse on campus. There are more important issues on campus than playing the game of football.

  • A

    A Track AthleteDec 10, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    The pole-vaulting budget is much smaller than the football one. Right?

    Most pole-vaulters don’t wear optional helmets, and the incidence of brain damage are much less frequent in pole-vaulting. You are attempting redirect the implications of their neurology argument to a recent, yet highly improbable tragedy. Shame on you. You know nothing is as dangerous as football.

    You also need a writing manual.

  • C

    concerned for concerned studentDec 10, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    I think concerned student is a little off the mark here. First of all, let’s refrain from ad hominem attacks against the authors of this article. Centering your comments on soccer players and african american students (groups represented by both of the authors) does not lend credibility to your remarks. I believe that the pushes, though not discussed in the article, are a serious issue, and it should at least be open for debate as to where this money goes. $1.3 M (the alleged amount of the pushes) could fund MAPs in underfunded areas such as the humanities, something I believe would lead to improvements in Grinnell’s strongest suit: PhD production. I think the article is less about “targeting”, and more about opening a dialogue, which is something you are clearly uncomfortable with. Additionally, I feel as though you are drawing a false dichotomy between homosexuals/african americans and football players because while the former are inherent traits, the latter is a choice, something you would be wise not to forget. In addition, as a student with postgraduate interests in neurology, I fail to understand how your critique is directed at the body of the argument, which is centered on wellness issues. While I view playing football as within the parameters of self-gov, I do not believe that funding thereof falls within this framework. Please elucidate why the football, or any sports team for that matter, should have absolute security within the college’s budget apart from historical reasons. Finally, I believe your use of the term “hate crime” is intended to garner support for the football team in these circumstances; however, as per Iowa statues, a hate crime can be defined as any of the following:
     Prohibit public offenses of assault, criminal mischief, trespass, arson or intimidation by
    threat of violence committed BECAUSE OF protected characteristics:
    national origin
    political affiliation
    sexual orientation
    physical/mental disability
    or because of the person’s association with people of these traits

    Participation on a sports team does not fall under any of these protected categories, reiterating my claims of a false dichotomy from above.

  • A

    a less concerned studentDec 10, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    If the school got rid of the BBC, how would we get our news?

    Are you kidding me kid?

  • C

    Concerned about "concerned student"Dec 10, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    “concerned student,” you are fundamentally wrong in virtually every aspect of your argument. First of all, you compare being on the football team as being “black” or “gay,” and claim that this article is a “hate crime.” That is flat out the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard in my life. Second, you criticize Grinnellian “acceptance” as hypocritical – like we’re supposed to accept everyone, and by not accepting the football team, we’re violating that. Well, there’s a key tenant of the Grinnellian acceptance ethos that you’re missing: how are we supposed to accept those who actively propagate a culture of non-acceptance? While I certainly yield that not all members of the team are guilty, there are many members that far too often engage in acts of sexual harassment, homophobia, and physical intimidation. This is unacceptable. You argue that they have different “backgrounds” – does that somehow justify their actions? They should be held to the same standards as everyone else. You act as though the fact that they are “different” in this regard should be respected and celebrated. On the contrary, that kind of “different” should be eradicated from the campus entirely, and certainly not admitted in the first place.

  • F

    Fellow StudentDec 10, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    First of all, it’s extremely offensive to equate membership of a sports team with the experience of being either homosexual or African American. Your comment does nothing but display a core misunderstanding of the article’s argument. The only discrimination the article calls for is that prospective students, who play football, are held to the same academic standard during the admissions process. Also if you wanted to continue your inaccurate comparison between the institution of football and the BCC or Stonewall resource center, I would only ask if those institution would still be funded by the college if they had been accused of hosting an event where sexual harassment was the main entertainment, as was the case two years ago with football team.

  • A

    alumDec 10, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    The writers display a commendable concern for the health of student athletes, but this looks a little more like yet another installment of “Grinnell is too special/liberal/intellectual/advanced to have a football team.” Instead of looking for new excuses to push for elimination of the program, take a moment to consider the benefits. I’m well aware that a significant portion of Grinnell students, past and probably present, would like nothing better than to live in a perfect, untainted bubble of liberal intellectualism, but college is about more than finding groups of like-minded people. It’s about learning to constructively disagree with (and coexist with) people who are different, not striving to get rid of them. Every group of people has its bad apples, but it seems like when those bad apples are on the football team, people see it as a reflection on the team and not on the individuals in question.

  • J

    Just saying!Dec 10, 2011 at 2:10 am

    Just reminding all readers that this is a letter to the editor, not an article by S&B writers.

  • C

    concerned studentDec 9, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    substitute football player with African-American or Homosexual and the writers of this article would be expelled. Substitute the football program with the stonewall resource center or the BBC and the campus would protest. These students associate themselves as football players and this article is a direct attack on a certain group in our community. You are targeting a group of individuals based off of the extracurricular activity they participate in. These students are apart of our campus and community. You may think that you are at no fault but on this campus those football players are the minority and you are not welcoming them in anyway. This should be considered a hate crime as they are being targeted. You all are the most hypocritical group of people ever. You say they discriminate and they don’t accept, but they are the minority and they are treated like dirt on campus by you. This school is about accepting. Accept that they have different backgrounds. Accept that they may be more conservative than other groups on campus. Accept that they bring a diverse group of people to this campus. You all should be ashamed with yourselves. Do you understand that they are treated like outcasts on this campus. They are not welcome here. Why is that exactly? Because they are different? Take a look in a mirror and start practicing what Grinnell preaches.

  • A

    a less concerned studentDec 9, 2011 at 4:42 pm

  • H

    huh?Dec 9, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    There is risk of brain injury inherent in all sport participation. Why does this article not mention pole vaulting, another sport that is both dangerous and expensive. I’ve read research that suggests that every time a soccer player heads the ball they experience brain damage. Football is not the only sport where we see risk of brain injury. With properly informed athletic trainers who supervise players and respond to potential head injuries with appropriate procedures, we minimize the risk of our athletes experiences serious brain trauma. Additionally not only football poses risks to health due to the body type necessary to play. In cross country a slimmer body can lead to faster times. Why does this article ignore this risk? Rather than a well structured argument in in the interest of saving the school money, I see here an attack on the football program. It is not well disguised.

  • S

    StudentDec 9, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    I hope this does not fall on deaf ears in the administration. Apart from the issues elucidated above, a school like Grinnell should not give coach’s “pushes”, of which football has one of the highest allowable amounts, to allow academically less talented individuals into our fine institution. Grinnell, both for the sake of its culture and its future as institution, should not be turning down more qualified applicants for those with great athletic ability. I am not directing this just at the football team, nor do I mean to imply in any way that many of the football players are not qualified to go to Grinnell. Anyone who has taken classes here alongside our student-athletes would know that to be a completely unfair stereotype. However the fact is that there are people at Grinnell who are not here first and foremost for their academic excellence I feel lessens my experience at Grinnell, and in a small but not insignificant way, cheapens the quality of my education.

  • C

    concerned studentDec 9, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    why would a school that is centered around diversity and the acceptance of all people even allow this article to be published?