Letters: Violence In Football And Crushing Crowds

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Talk of the Nation listeners responded to a conversation about violence in the NFL. And, after an interview about staying safe in large crowds, listeners shared their own stories about feeling trapped in a throng.


We usually read from your letters on Tuesday but we missed our chance, so we're catching up today.

Our opinion page segment on violence in football brought letters from fans of the sport like Mike(ph) in Tennessee. Let's truly hope we do not ever get to the day that the marquee players of the NFL are coached to drop to the ground in the fetal position instead of getting hit, ala Peyton Manning, he wrote. Perhaps if the NFL would reverse some of the many rules that is instituted over the last 30 years simply to help offenses score and thus keep fans happy, the number of head injuries would decrease if only because defenses could use more traditional strategies. The number of 4,000-yard passers and 1,000-yard receivers would decrease, but there is no doubt that injuries would as well.

Listener Shannon(ph) wrote to say that violence and football always go hand in hand. I worked as the trainer aide to my high school football team. First thing I learned was how to see an injury before anyone else did. Even after watching many friends get hurt, we still cheered when a quarterback got sacked. Danger is football.

And we talked about NPR's investigation in partnership with ProPublica and PBS "Frontline," which explored the nation's coroner and medical examiner's offices. They found the system in disarray. But one of listener wanted to point out that not every office is like the ones we focused on.

Many years ago, I worked in a hospital laboratory in St. Petersburg, Florida, which also had the county morgue. I helped the pathologist at times, and they were the most thorough and respectful physicians I've ever seen. I would prefer to have one of them do surgery on me than any of the arrogant surgeons I met. That from Phyllis(ph) in Gainesville.

At our segment talking about crowd crush brought back memories, scary ones for some, like Kim Noble(ph). She's the Midday host at number station KCUR in Kansas City. And she wrote, I lived in Nigeria in the '80s where it was common to overbook flights and also for the airport ticket clerks to be bribed to give out way more boarding passes than they were seats.

I was returning to Nigeria from Abidjan on Air Nigeria and when the flight was called, I was swept up in a sea of would-be travelers, some of whom were carrying tires on their heads and chickens under their arms, all of them acutely aware that they were more boarding passes than seats. I was carried along in a seething mass of humanity with my feet off the ground and arms being pulled in different directions, followed by then-husband trying to extricate me. Frightening at that time, a great story now.

And one listener went way back for a crowd story to the Hundred Years' War. Your guest's description of crowd dynamics brings to mind the Battle of Agincourt. The battle took place on a narrow field with woods on both sides. The French forces, who greatly outnumbered the English, were so eager to get up to the front for the glory of the fight that they literally crushed their forward compatriots to death, forcing them on to the English pikes or grinding them into the ground. Thanks to Steve MacIntyre(ph) in Beaver Dam, Arizona for that.

If you want to hear more about how the Battle of Agincourt was won, you few - you happy few, you, too, can go back in time and listen to our interview with historian Juliet Barker. We posted a link at our website. That's in npr.org and click on TALK OF THE NATION.

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