Friday, May 4, 2012

11. American Football and Nuclear Power - One Fan's Differing Dilemmas

Anyone who knows me even a little bit could probably instantly answer correctly if asked the 2 things I am the biggest fan of:  Nuclear Power and a particular American Football (not to be confused with Soccer/Futbol) team based in the Southeastern U.S.  (Both Nuclear Power and American Football were invented in America, by the way.)

The first blog I ever started (with Entreprenuclear being the 2nd) was supposed to be primarily about analyzing Football (for the rest of this post the American designation will simply be implied) with some other sports and random musings thrown in.  I have to admit that my love of football even played a role in my period of delaying 6 months to obtain employment during the fall in 2008.

You could also say that I am more than a little bit of a fan of peaceful nuclear power.  I mean, how many people start a blog, or even read other blogs, about something that they aren't a fan of?

I have a dilemma with being a fan of each of these 2 things, but only 1 of my dilemmas is actually related to safety.

Football being a dangerous, somewhat violent sport is not any kind of revelation to me.  Big hits on the football field have long been celebrated, and have been a big part of why some people like watching the game.  Many people tend to enjoy seeing impressive displays of Energy being rapidly exerted.

Some might feel a little squeamish seeing some of these hits.  A small part of me wonders whether I should feel a little bad about enjoying this game and actively contributing to its popularity via my fandom (and subsequent $$ spent on it).

The tragic news story from yesterday regarding Junior Seau's suicide (Articles from USA Today, Christian Science Monitor, The Guardian, Orange County Register, and the LA Times) very possibly adds to the evidence of just how dangerous football is.  While it is still far too early to draw a definitive conclusion that repeated head trauma obtained on the gridiron might have contributed to whatever depression/inner demons caused Junior to choose to do what he did, it would be difficult to think that there isn't at least some correlation there.
He's why #55 is a big-time number at USC

Regardless of conclusiveness of any cause and effect, this incident has made it impossible to ignore that a definite safety issue exists in regards to playing football.  While a definitive number for the life expectancy effects of playing football is tough to find, ages younger than 60 are cited pretty often (53-59 in this article).  That is a significant departure from the average of 75 for all American males.

American Football has a safety issue.
The need for improvements in the safety procedures and protocols in the NFL (and college and high school) is imperative.  The NFL has been taking steps to improve, and they must continue taking steps.  My dilemma results from not being sure that I can perpetually remain a fan of a game that has the capability of doing so much harm to people.  Would doing so make me a barbarian?

American Nuclear Power does NOT have a safety issue.
I am fully confident that the rules in the United States governing the safety of nuclear power plants and the enforcement of those rules are adequate for protecting the health and safety of the public.  There are stiff penalties (and jail time) for violating NRC rules.  The safety record of commercial nuclear power in the United States is highly enviable (ZERO fatalities, ALL-TIME, Three Mile Island-included).

While Nuclear Power does not have a safety issue that would cause me a dilemma, I do have a dilemma related to nuclear power that comes from a completely different angle.

Here is MY Nuclear Dilemma
Peaceful nuclear power is not being used extensively enough throughout the world and advancements (which are well-known to be possible and likely) in regards to peaceful nuclear power are far from encouraged by the present, existing regulatory environment.  Neither of these issues should be reversed at the expense of maintaining adequate levels of nuclear safety, but luckily they won't have to be.

The world presently has something like 1.1 BILLION people who don't have a good source of clean drinking water.  "Left-over" waste energy from future nuclear power plants should be capable of desalinating vast quantities of water from the ocean to help mitigate this problem.  Many people live in energy poverty.  More than 1.3 Billion people lack any access to electricity, and certainly more than that lack access to reliable electricity.  Having adequate supplies of reliable energy can help solve a significant portion of the world's other poverty-related problems.

Fossil fuels are considerably more finite than fission fuels in regards to feasibly harness-able energy content.  Nuclear power needs to be allowed to be the primary energy source for a growing portion of the world's energy needs if my hypothetical future grandchildren are to have any hope of living in an America (and world) that isn't filled with an increased degree of energy poverty from what present generations have gotten to enjoy (apologies for this 56 word sentence).  Increased energy poverty would almost certainly equal decreased societal wealth and would likely coincide with increased incidences of violence and theft.  That is not a world that we should want to leave behind.

My Nuclear Dilemma is am I doing all I can to help future energy supplies be ABUNDANT.

I have no plans to abandon being a football fan, but I would like to see the NFL (and NCAA and High School governing bodies) strive to make continuous improvements to players head safety.  I realize that there will always be a degree of risk is involved when human bodies often at well over 200 lbs collide and almost instantly decelerate to a stop from speeds of greater than 15 mph (that is a lot of energy to be absorbed somewhere).  I would not advocate shutting down the most popular sport in America, but recent events make it imperative to consider the need for improvements in player safety.
Also, I anticipate the somber tone of this post being a rarity here at Entreprenuclear. Most posts will be much more upbeat overall.


  1. I meant to include this somewhere in the article, but forgot to mention that this post would likely fit in well with the theme at

  2. Following up the theme of this article, can you do a feature on each current and future nuke and their humanitarian usage in the third world? Forget Africa -- I was stunned how few nukes all of South America has! (and would introducing Thorium reactors there as trial cases on nuke-virgin soil boost its use worldwide?)

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY