I have never been much of a fan of American football. This is partly due to a trauma related to the game early in my life. My father took me to a University of Montana Grizzly game when I was 5 years old. Naturally, we sat in the cheap seats, rickety bleachers used mostly by impoverished students and my father.
It was my first opportunity to watch a football game and I tried to concentrate but the tedium of timeouts, huddles and slow movement of huge men adorned in padding and helmets caused me to daydream. I dozed off, fell out of the bleachers and fractured my clavicle. I swore off football, which seemed to be a dangerous sport.
High school football was not that interesting to me although Friday night games were an accepted social base. I did meet my wife at an after-game dance so football is not all bad.
I attended half of a Huskies football game while I was a student at the University of Washington (UW). The Dawgs were getting their butts kicked by the University of Southern California Trojans in the fall of 1967. A particularly talented running back for USC had scored several touchdowns but then sprained his ankle. The UW fans screamed with delight as the injured Trojan was carried off the field. I thought this was terrible sportsmanship and could potentially damage the USC player for the rest of his life. I got up and left the game. The USC player was O.J. Simpson.
I attended one other UW game 10 years ago when an anesthesiologist gave me his 50-yard line tickets. Stanford was kicking the Huskies’ butts. A small airplane crossed the field, towing a banner that said, “Eat at Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub.” I elbowed my wife and pointed at the plane. We got up and headed for Kells to beat the crowd. I am not sure who won the game. The steak and Guinness pie were great.
I suspended my dislike for the game when the Seattle Seahawks faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL. Like every other Washington state male, I planted my rear end in a recliner in front of a flat screen lobotomy box with beer and high carbohydrate snacks to watch the Seahawks get their butts kicked.
As I watched the game, I got an idea of what would make football more interesting to me. Whenever five mesomorphs tackle and pile onto a ball carrier, the guy on the bottom gets injured. The announcers do the best they can to describe the injury and usually give some pertinent history like: “Zeke just had arthroscopic knee surgery three weeks ago and now he is facing an open operation which could sideline him for six weeks. Tough blow for the team. He was their last uninjured wide receiver, blah, blah, blah …”
Here is what I think they should do. The team orthopedic surgeon should come out on the field with his white coat and Rolex watch. He should have a microphone attached to his belt like the referees and he should announce the injury with a diagnostic code and the expected operation with a CPT code. All of us medical types could look up the usual and customary fee for the operation and add 80 percent because it is, after all, sports medicine.
At the end of the game, we could add up the damage and figure out who the real winners are in the game of football. I bet underworked orthopedic surgeons invented the game. Nah. On second thought, they are not that bright.
I have to make a better effort to be more understanding and show more interest in the game of football. The next time I go to a Huskies or Seahawks game, I promise not to bring a novel or listen to the Bach cello sonatas on my iPod. I will stand up for my segment of the “wave” (invented by Husky cheerleader Rob Weller in 1969).
I respect the high school coaches in my community. Most will not play an injured student until a physician clears him. On rare occasions, when a coach pressures an injured athlete to “play through the pain,” he hears from me and so does his school board.
I read three chapters of a good novel during the Super Bowl XL game. GO SEAHAWKS!!!
Dr. McCord is a Diplomate of the American Board of Podiatric Surgery. He practices at Centralia Medical Center in Centralia, Wash.