Learning to ride, falling down, getting back on
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David Cook is a columnist for the Times Free Press and teaches high-school English in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He stays active by playing for an over-forty church softball team, in which he’s batting an unimpressive .200.
So, yes, the NFL and NCAA have instituted stiff penalties for helmet-to-helmet hits and even redesigned kickoffs to reduce high-speed collisions. But, again, all of this only helps limit concussions. The problem is that the permanent brain injuries arise in part because of those subconcussive hits, the ones players receive nearly every single play, and there’s no way to engineer those out. The tackle will always be part of the game.
The death penalty could be ended tomorrow if the Supreme Court would reverse its earlier decision. The Court overturned the death penalty once before, in 1972 (Furman v. Georgia), on the grounds that it was arbitrarily and capriciously applied and used disproportionately against poor people. But in Gregg v. Georgia the justices reinstated the death penalty with stricter criteria, limiting its applicability to only the worst of the worst and taking into account the defendant’s character and record. At that time the Court acknowledged the racism in death-penalty sentencing but said it would be too disruptive to our judicial system to correct the bias.
Some think that racism ended with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Those were important steps, because they made it illegal to engage in discrimination. But just because you’ve made something illegal doesn’t mean it no longer happens. No enforcement mechanisms existed for the Fair Housing Act until 1988, and evidence suggests there are still millions of cases of race-based housing discrimination every year.