New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Used-Up Heroes

December 08, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Robert C. Koehler

What We Do to the World, We Do to Ourselves

by Robert C. Koehler

At a sports bar in downtown Minneapolis called Sneaky Pete’s, “Young men fueled with alcohol begged Boogaard to punch them, so they could say they survived a shot from the Boogeyman.”

I’m thinking, wow, we power our society as much on adolescent energy as we do on fossil fuels. And the consequences are probably even more devastating.

The quote is a small moment in an excellent story in the New York Times the other day by John Branch called “A Brain Going Bad,” about the National Hockey League’s onetime premiere enforcer/tough guy, Derek Boogaard, who died last May at age 28 of an alcohol and painkiller overdose. His addiction to them was likely due to unrelieved, untreated brain trauma.

After his death, brain researchers discovered the presence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, an Alzheimer’s-like condition most likely caused by repeated blows to the head. Boogaard had become just one more used-up hero.

“More than 20 dead former NFL players and many boxers have had CTE diagnosed,” Branch wrote. “It generally hollowed out the final years of their lives into something unrecognizable to loved ones.” (more…)

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