Voting Matters

The sad story of Mike Feeley.

What kept 121 extra Feeley supporters inside on election day?In the current political climate, where electoral math minimizes the importance of all but a few key states months before a presidential election, it's no surprise that more and more people are becoming disillusioned about politics. How could my vote matter, they wonder, when elections are decided by millions of votes? One vote is just a drop in the proverbial puddle. But, more often than you might think, elections (especially congressional elections) are decided by the slimmest of margins.Take, for example, the 2002 election for U.S. Representative in Colorado's 7th district, which encompasses some suburbs of Denver and a large slice of the surrounding countryside. Once all the votes were tallied (and lawsuits decided) the Republican candidate, Bob Beauprez, beat Democrat Mike Feeley by 121 votes-.07 percent of the 163,477 cast. What kept 121 extra Feeley supporters inside on election day? Perhaps Denver's football team having the week off meant fewer people watching last-minute campaign commercials. Or maybe a snowstorm and police shootout in the city the day before the election added other reasons to stay inside. And, surely, a campaign visit by George W. Bush the week before fired up the local Republicans.This is not a lone example. In the 27th District of New York, almost 300,000 people cast their ballots for their representative in 2004. The election was decided by 3,774 votes. And, that same year, only 130 voters separated the winner from the loser in the Washington gubernatorial race, an election in which 2.9 million people voted. The next time you think your vote doesn't matter, stop for a moment and think of poor Mike Feeley.

When former Pittsburgh Steelers' center Mike Webster committed suicide in 2002, his death began to raise awareness of the brain damage experienced by NFL football players. A 2017 study found that 99% of deceased NFL players had a degenerative brain disease known as CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Only one out of 111 former football players had no sign of CTE. It turns out, some of the risks of traumatic brain injury experienced by heavily padded adults playing at a professional level also exist for kids with developing brains playing at a recreational level. The dangers might not be as intense as what the adults go through, but it can have some major life-long consequences.

A new PSA put out by the Concussion Legacy Foundation raises awareness of the dangers of tackle football on developing brains, comparing it to smoking. "Tackle football is like smoking. The younger I start, the longer I am exposed to danger. You wouldn't let me smoke. When should I start tackling?" a child's voice can be heard saying in the PSA as a mother lights up a cigarette for her young son.

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via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

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The Planet
via International Labour Organization / Flickr and Michael Moore / Facebook

Before the release of "The Joker" there was a glut of stories in the media about the film's potential to incite violence.

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