Letter: Glorification of playing through the pain is not healthy

Phil Perry’s article on Brett McEvoy (“For Warriors, he’s king of the defense,” Oct. 17, Globe West) took my breath away.

Coming on the heels of the scathing documentary by “Frontline” about the NFL and the culture of football “playing through the pain” and ignoring head injuries and concussions, I wonder how Globe writers can still write articles like this one.

While I was not surprised to hear the young football player from Wrentham highlighted for his excellent skills and fierce determination and grit, I was shocked to see the way the article showcased the “play until you drop” mentality.


The writer talks about how McEvoy, since the age of 11, has “never missed a game due to injury or otherwise . . . played hurt against the Panthers last week . . . ” and how the player says, “My dad put that mentality in me. The only time you should be off the field is if you’re in an ambulance.”

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

In one game, a hit to the midsection in the first half left him “vomiting periodically on the sidelines” although he finished the game.

I am not surprised that a 17-year-old might say such a line or play with such commitment. And I applaud the dedication, leadership, and passion of this remarkable young man.

What is troubling is the Globe’s choices on what to highlight, including placing the quotation about the ambulance in large, bold letters next to his picture.

It is bad enough that the vast majority of articles on adolescents in the Globe are about sports instead of the arts, music, community service or academics, as if grit and toughness isn’t on display in any one of these other areas of high school life. But more is at stake here in our glorification of ignoring pain on a playing field.


How complicit we all are in our encouragement of “toughness” over the long-term health of our children.

Kathy Coleman