Isn’t it about time America banned soccer? Not because of British hooligans or the vuvuzela that has now made it into your local dollar store, although Heaven knows soccer has plenty to answer for on both those scores. No, the question at hand is whether soccer should be banned because of the other costs it imposes on society.Very reminiscent of Joe Jackson's Dog Ban proposal, isn't it? It should be, of course, as both articles sagely lampoon the same selective hypocrisy, as Hinkle succinctly points out.
This comes up thanks to a little story from a few weeks back about a new study finding that “heading” a soccer ball can lead to traumatic brain injury.
Okay, so perhaps we don’t need to ban soccer outright. Perhaps we should only require players to wear helmets. But what about sports in general? In the aggregate, they cost society a tremendous lot of money.
According to the National Center for Sports Safety, more than 3.5 million children receive medical treatment for sports injuries every year. Sports and recreation account for a fifth of traumatic brain injuries among young people, which the CDC says have increased 60 percent in the past decade. Overall injury rates for various sports are surprisingly high: 28 percent of youth football players get hurt. So do a quarter of all youth baseball players, more than a fifth of all youth soccer players, and even 15 percent of all youth basketball players. Even gymnastics is responsible for tens of thousands of injuries a year.
Obviously, this imposes huge costs on society. Those injured players who are insured drive up premiums for everybody. Those who are not insured receive charity care, which drives up hospital rates. People who play sports are engaging in risky behavior that hurts us all, for their own selfish enjoyment. Somebody needs to put a stop to this.
If you think the preceding paragraph is a barrel of 180-proof rot, good for you. But this is precisely the sort of argument that is being made in other areas of what is subversively known as public health.Do go read the whole thing as it is delightfully drawn, highlighting as it does a particular inconsistency in the way different behaviours and choices are viewed by those we expect to 'serve' us.
You see, no matter the perfectly transparent nature of costs against benefits that modern statistics gathering affords us, the benefits are ignored only in areas where the state chooses to.
Sport is considered a 'win' because of the intangible benefit to the nation of enjoyment and health. This, of course, despite the fact that healthy people arguably cost every nation more than those who are unhealthy. In Jackson's article, dogs are even harder to justify except by the satisfaction factor - they are also a luxury apart from a few exceptions.
Yet satisfaction and other intangible benefits are routinely ignored where lifestyles of which the state disapproves are concerned.
They're easily measurable, too.
So, how do we find ourselves in this position whereby one set of choices are derided as being a financial burden by way of strategic dismissal of plain benefits, while others are lauded thanks to the dismissal of all mention of costs?With alcohol harm costing us an estimated £25 billion each year, MPs must act now.And what a delightfully made up number. However, as has been pointed out many times before, there are costs and benefits to all things. People drink because they like it, the pleasure of the booze is worth the pain purchasing it brings on in the wallet. Thus the value to the populace of booze must be higher than what the populace spends on booze. Over£50 billion then.
We get twice as much out of booze as booze gets out of us, even by your absurd and inflated figure.
Well, it helps if self-interest dictates that vast soundbite-spouting departments would be on the dole if starved of the cash handed to them by the same ideologically blinkered politicians who change the rules with every disingenuous utterance, of course.
But when you boil it all down, there is a massive dose of class condescension and snobbery involved too, as Snowdon recently identified in the case of fat taxes.
As for reducing consumption of "sugar-sweetened beverages" by 7.5ml a day, there are 400 calories in a litre of Coca-Cola, so a reduction of 7.5ml works out at 3 fewer calories per day. This, of course, assumes that people would replace their Coke with water or nothing at all. If they substituted something "healthy", like an Innocent Smoothie, they would wind up consuming more calories because a typical litre of smoothie contains more than 500 calories. (But we don't mention that because middle-class people like them.)Y'see, the severity of sanctions against practices which 'cost' the NHS is directly correlated with how they will impact the middle class and upwards. When it comes to lifestyles identified as enjoyment for the working classes, the cost is described in terms like 'epidemic', 'crisis', disaster', and 'time bomb', whilst action to be taken against such pleasures is 'urgent', 'vital', and 'essential'. It's awful to see working class people enjoying their little sins, isn't it? Even if that very enjoyment is an intangible benefit in itself, as is the tangible monetary saving.
Whereas, if it concerns something not seen as predominantly for the 'common' or classless - like sport, for example - the same costs are either meekly accepted, or ignored altogether.
Goes some way to explaining why we have politicians of widely differing ideologies all proposing laws which dismiss verifiable evidence in favour of sentiment, myth and blatantly manipulated poppycock, doesn't it? Detached and dispassionate though they believe themselves to be, their self-control is so weak that they simply can't mask that hideous in-built bigoted snobbery.