Thanks to Scott Helman for a moving and insightful article about the dangers of concussions in soccer (“Wake-Up Call,” April 24). I played quite a bit of soccer for the Medford High Mustangs in the early 1970s. During one game, I went to head the ball at the same moment as an opponent. His head snapped back into my face, breaking my nose and knocking out one of my front teeth. I fell to the ground – dizzy, bleeding, and seeing double. As so often happens, play continued. I finished the season and went on to play in college and to coach youth soccer. But based on what I have experienced and observed, I would say that “the beautiful game” has a serious flaw. It routinely exposes players to serious blows to the head. For the sake of the game and the players, soccer should take the obvious next step: Ban heading the ball.
Chris Daly / Newton
I found Helman’s article not only informative but very accurate. I suffered depression from one of my concussions, and that is why I passionately strive to educate and draw attention to this silent killer of brains. That is also why I and others have formed an organization to help with the concussion situation from the inside out with stopconcussions.com. Too many kids are going to bed tonight with an undiagnosed concussion. We have to eliminate that.
Kerry Goulet / Executive Director, Play It Cool Hockey
“Wake-Up Call” could not have been more timely for our family. Just a few weeks ago, my 18-year-old son, Josh, a senior at Needham High School and a varsity lacrosse player, sustained his fourth concussion. It took him several days to admit that he had yet another one. Then he advised his coach that he was quitting lacrosse in favor of his long-term health. His dreams of playing in college are dashed, but he knows he cannot take the risk posed by contact sports anymore. Like the mothers Helman profiled, I have read about concussions, learned to recognize the symptoms, helped Josh in his recovery, and developed a work plan with his school. What has been hardest on Josh is that this concussion comes at a time when he is completing his senior year and sending off to colleges final grades that look nothing like those of his past three years. The impact of a concussion is far-reaching – it affects physical, emotional, career, and long-term cognitive abilities. Josh doesn’t know whether he will ever be able to think clearly again, but we hope that with time his brain will repair itself. We need to make sure students who have sustained concussions recognize the signs, know the risks, and don’t return to play right away. The long-term risk is not worth the short-term reward of the remaining game time or season.
Joanne Aliber / Needham
Postcard From Shangri-La
I can’t resist the urge to respond to “Return to Shangri-La” about the rescue of Margaret Hastings of the Women’s Army Corps and two other service members (April 24). I was a member of the first US Air Force party that reconnoitered the Baliem Valley in May 1944, trying to find a location suitable for an airstrip to handle emergency landings. I have a newspaper article from shortly after our expedition. It states erroneously that we “discovered” the Baliem Valley – and you say the US Army stumbled across it – but in fact we were alerted to its existence and location by veteran pilots of the Dutch Air Force. We made four flights across that part of Dutch New Guinea, and on two of them we surveyed the Baliem Valley from the air. It was on a later flight that the “Shangri-La” name was introduced. Of course, I remember the story about “the WAC in Shangri-La” that was publicized widely a year later. I hadn’t remembered any details about her rescue, of which author Mitchell Zuckoff has made such a thorough study.
Harold L. Stubbs / Northampton
I felt compelled to write to say how much I enjoyed the essay by Brendan Tapley, “The Guy Code” (Perspective, April 24). I am completing my dissertation on the topic of American masculinity for a PhD in English at State University of New York at Buffalo. A couple of years ago, I ventured into the world of journalism in hopes that I might reach a wider audience, and this process has been slow and difficult. Furthermore, writing on contemporary masculinity as a gay man has posed its own set of challenges. Reading Tapley’s article has been an inspiration. It sets a strong example that I aim to follow in my own work.
Kevin Arnold / Buffalo
I believe many men long for more intimate connections with other men, where they can open up and be vulnerable. It takes more secure men (like Tapley) to make the first step. I’m glad Tapley had the courage to send his note to his male friend (despite the possible breach of protocol); his friend probably felt great when he got it. And maybe, just maybe, the friend had the courage to respond in a like manner.
Thomas Lee / Boston
Politics of Sea Walls
Does Charles P. Pierce really want the taxpayers to pay for sea walls on private property (Pierced, April 24)? In Massachusetts, owners of waterfront property own down to the low-tide line, and many of them are not shy about ejecting taxpayers who may be trespassing. Incidentally, I live only one block from a collapsing sea wall. When the waterfront reaches my home, I’ll be delighted to give the Commonwealth the land below the high-tide line.
Sid McDonough /North Weymouth
I have never been able to understand how towns and individuals with publicly financed sea walls are still able to bar the unwashed such as myself from the use of the beach in front of said walls.
Douglas Baird / Charlestown
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