The football religion (5×8 – 9/17/12)

Rearranging the football brain, remembering Antietam, the wild rice harvest, a concert at your home, and suicide secrecy.


The Monday Morning Rouser:

1) REARRANGING THE FOOTBALL BRAIN

Sunday’s Star Tribune investigation into the death of Minnesota Viking Wally Hilgenberg was masterfully done and should leave a troubling imprint on parents sending their kids off to football practice.

It showed that Hilgenberg did not die of Lou Gehrig’s disease, but from the effects of having his brain rearranged in a sport of violent hitting.

This scenario is not new. There’s been enough from the Boston researchers who’ve been studying the brains of dead athletes to conclude that there’s nothing healthy about the violent sports. It’s the same research that showed that former Minnesota Wild player Derek Boogaard’s brain degenerated from hockey hits and fighting, a conclusion that — when publicized by the New York Times — was met mostly with a shrug by hockey fans.

“Football is bad. It’s really, really bad,” Eric Hilgenberg, Wally’s son, told the Star Tribune.

But it was this short quote from Hilgenberg’s widow that, perhaps, told an underlying story.

“You speak against football, and it’s like speaking against someone’s religion,” she said.

Which is a comment directed to other football brains.

2) REMEMBERING ANTIETAM

Today is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam in the Civil War. It was the bloodiest day in American history, when the country began to realize that war isn’t all that glorious.

Here’s a list of 35 members of the Minnesota First Infantry killed in the battle.

3) THE HARVEST

Last week on 5×8, I provided a video showing how wild rice in Minnesota is harvested. Only 10 percent of the world’s rice is harvested by hand and this area is one of the few area’s on the planet where it’s done. NPR takes a look at wild rice as a source of income for the Ojibway, and mining, dams, and inclement weather are concerned, especially after the June flooding drowned much of the crop.

4) THE HOME CONCERTS

Why go out to a concert when the concert comes to you? The Fargo Forum reports today on a growing trend: more people are hosting concerts in their homes. “You actually get to hang out and talk to people,” says singer Jeremy Messersmith,

5) SUICIDE SECRECY

School officials in Minnesota have done an effective job of muting a sad fact — there are more kids killing themselves than a lot of people might imagine. Experts say if they acknowledge the suicides — the second-leading cause of death among young people — more people might take their own lives.

The Pioneer Press looks at what some schools are doing to stem the suicides.

“My main goal is, I’m responding to the second suicide at Norwood and saying, ‘This is crazy. We need to get this information out there and to the parents,’ ” Melanie Warm, who is working to organize a community consortium in Carver County said. “The school is not the source to provide the information. Their job is to educate kids. So where else are (parents) supposed to get that?”

But the parents of some children who took their own life say schools are being judgmental and denying their children honors in death that others receive.

The comments section of the article carries responses from the parents of one of the children in the story. She’s a social worker and wonders whether kids would be better served by acknowledging what they already know — kids are killing themselves:


“In January of 2012, after the loss of student Andy Hendel, I was shocked that the school district was not tackling this issue school wide with students. I come from a time when we had assemblies; MADD, for example presented to us as a school. I know that counselors were called in, but how realistic is it that the kids who “really needed it” would go in and talk to a complete stranger? Why not do an assembly and give everyone the same opportunity to have the same information, regardless of if they are too scared to ask for it. The school received emails from me at that time, encouraging them to be open and listen to what the kids are saying, they wanted a memorial and were told no.”

Bonus I: The New York Times’ David Carr opens up a new front in the debate over reporters getting approval for the use of quotes by people they write about — people who interview via e-mail:


But something else more modern and insidious is under way. In an effort to get it first, reporters sometimes cut corners, sending questions by e-mail and taking responses the same way. What is lost is the back-and-forth, the follow-up question, the possibility that something unrehearsed will make it into the article. Keep in mind that when public figures get in trouble for something they said, it is usually not because they misspoke, but because they accidentally told the truth.

I don’t think he’s quite right. I often “interview” by e-mail for a singular reason: It’s in writing and people can’t claim the quote isn’t accurate. There’s nothing preventing a followup question. Also, email gets through to people’s phones faster and their phone numbers aren’t often available.

It’s an entirely different situation from the cozy relationship between PR people and journalists highlighted by the demand for approval of quotes.

Bonus II: Improving cities by getting rid of highways. (Wired.com)

TODAY’S QUESTION

You’ll likely be bombarded with political ads, fliers and emails between now and the election on Nov. 6. Today’s Question: What kind of political ads do you think are most effective?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: An analysis of the “you didn’t build that” controversy in the presidential campaign.

Second hour: Linguist and word guru Anatoly Liberman.

Third hour: For author Eboo Patel, hateful rhetoric once confined to the political fringes has become an unsettling part of the mainstream in America. But he argues in his new book that the forces of pluralism can defeat prejudice, as it has throughout the nation’s history.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): An America Abroad documentary: “The Next President: Foreign Policy Challenges.” Ray Suarez is the host.

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - It’s the season for harvesting apples. But this year in Michigan, they’re really hard to find. After extreme weather back in April, only about 15 percent of the state’s normal crop survived. NPR will have the story of Michigan’s missing apples.

In the first of a new series, airing monthly, MPR’s Marianne Combs profiles artists who have dedicated their lives to making the world a better place. Ananya Chatterjea, founder of Ananya Dance Theatre, trains her dancers to become activists, and uses her performances to raise awareness of environmental and social injustices.

For many of us, our wireless phones are lot more than phones. They’re music players, cameras, address and datebooks and much more. But what about using your phone as your wallet? That, too, may be coming. Many smaller retailers are already enabling shoppers to pay for purchases with their phones. And major retailers such as Target and Best Buy are also looking to take such payments from customers. MPR’s Marty Moylan will have the story.

Talmud Torah’s Sara Lynn will talk about the ram’s horn used this season in Jewish ritual.