Football is heading in the right direction

Published 9:19 am Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Column: Pothole Prairie, by Tim Engstrom

Last August, I wrote a column where I was concerned about the future of the game of football. My primary source was a debate at the Aspen Ideas Festival called “Can Football Be Saved From Itself?” Concussions and brain injuries were — and still are — at the forefront of concerns for parents, players and coaches alike.

This August, I am glad to see the growing popularity of a program called Heads Up Football. The program aims to raise awareness of concussions and reduce helmet hits and began with a pilot program in Virginia last year. Heads Up is run by USA Football, an organization started in 2002 by the NFL and NFL players.

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More than 600,000 players and 83,000 coaches have signed on to the Heads Up program. Pop Warner Football and other youth leagues already had been on board.

So there is the really good news: On Monday, the National Federation of State High School Associations endorsed Heads Up.

That doesn’t mean the state associations must pick it up, but it sure lends a lot of weight to the program. It probably won’t be long before the Minnesota State High School League and the Iowa High School Athletic Association require it, and all coaches at all levels must become accredited in the Heads Up coaching ethic.

Last year, people (me included) were worried about whether football would be around for the long haul. This year, thanks to Heads Up and its quick spread, I feel a lot better about the classic American sport.


All-natural ice cream

Whenever I go to the grocery store, there is one kind of ice cream that sells faster than all the rest. It is Wells Blue Bunny All-Natural Vanilla.

Last night, I bought the last one available at Nelson’s Market Place.

Why aren’t more companies making the real ice cream?

See, ice creams should only have four or five ingredients: cream, milk, sugar, vanilla and maybe some egg yolks. It’s not complicated.

And many consumers are smart. They look on the back of ice cream containers and the ingredients list is a mile long. Most of the time, the ice cream doesn’t even have cream in it. If the ingredients list includes water, all that means is you are eating ice, rather than frozen cream. Adding water is a cheap means of upping profits. Have you heard of companies putting kelp in ice cream? Yeah, that’s to help thicken the mixture because it has water in it. The term is sometimes called propylene glycol alginate. Most of the ingredients on the list are things we don’t recognize, which I feel a body has a harder time working off. Often, the ingredients list will include a trans fat called hydrogenated coconut oil. The list might include guar gum, which is a laxative, people! The list sometimes has a color, such as annotate. Seriously? Vanilla ice cream needs coloring? And they use corn syrup, rather than plain sugar, which is because corn syrup is cheaper, though I still believe — and maybe this is because I was a kid in the 1970s — that sugar is a truer sweetness than corn syrup. Corn syrup is sweet, but it doesn’t dance on the tongue like sugar.

Really, ice cream is a good example of how the Food and Drug Administration and so many federal agencies do more to protect the interests of the companies they regulate than the consumer. But that’s another discussion for another day.

When I want ice cream, all I ask is it be real. And real ice cream doesn’t have strange ingredients. Breyer’s all-natural ice cream is harder to find — and I’ve read that it has gone bye-bye, but the company’s website says it still exists. Fortunately, Wells Blue Bunny makes all-natural.

Like their commercials used to say when I was a kid: “No trick to it. Just open up a carton, dig in and do it.”


Motorcycles in the morning

I am pro-motorcycle. And being a bicycle rider, I know how car drivers can judge the behavior of all bicycle riders based on the bad behavior of a few. The same judging criteria fall on motorcycle riders, too.

That said, why is it that some motorcycle riders feel the need to open up the pipes at 6:30 a.m.? Do they think: “Let’s declare how manly I am by waking up every baby and tired mother in the neighborhood. Yeah, that will build my ego this morning.”

Of course, this is followed by an evil laugh and the twisting of a moustache.

I suppose that’s what we get for trying to save money and opening up the windows instead of running the air conditioner. For revenge, I plan to stand out by the corner with an air horn and start blowing it at every motorcycle rider. Let’s see how they like it.

Oh, not the riders who broke the morning peace? Too bad. See how it feels.

OK, I am not really going to blow air horns, but you get my drift. Knock it off! You give good motorcyclists a bad name.


Tribune Managing Editor Tim Engstrom’s column appears every Tuesday.

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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