NYT: Is It Wrong to Watch Football?

 

19524079-mmmainIn the hype leading up to Super Bowl 50, many journalists are asking whether football should be watched at all. The Cleveland Plain Dealer offered the headline “Football and its unavoidable violence is becoming a moral dilemma,” while USA Today and the CBC ran two different stories sharing the title “Is it immoral to watch the Super Bowl?”

The New York Times held a colloquy on the issue, inviting two former NFL players and two laypeople to answer the question, “how can fans enjoy watching a game that helps ruin players’ lives?” I’m quick to dismiss elitist sniffery at the simple joys of blue-collar entertainment, be it the proliferation of chain restaurants or the love of shoot-’em-up movies, but the Gray Lady’s coverage was more balanced that I had expected. Below are brief excerpts of each argument.

Markus Koch:

Football is a spectacle of extreme athleticism, controlled mayhem and violence that entertains our thirst for domination. To really appreciate the glories of the game and what it does, though, maybe fans should watch more of it, and get closer to the real game.

Try 24-hour coverage of a player’s life, as they pop pills and get surgery. Then ‘game suits’ can let fans feel every ‘tremendous hit’ on the field.

Perhaps, to really show the game fully and augment the experience, telemetric technology imbedded in uniforms could inform viewers of the condition of the anterior cruciate ligament, broken forearm or separated shoulder of their favorite players.

Helmets could discolor and ooze when the dura mater in a player’s cranium is damaged…

My God, how brave and proud we must feel! Watch. Watch closely. See everything.

Marvin Washington:

Over the last few years, the N.F.L. has made 39 rule changes to enhance player safety. Kickoffs were moved to the 35-yard line from the 30-yard line to increase touchbacks and decrease dangerous kickoff returns. A more rigorous protocol was established for dealing with concussions. Independent medical spotters can now call a timeout if they see that a player may have been concussed. Receivers on a pass that is intercepted are now classified as defenseless players. These are just a few recent changes that have had measurable results…

So as you watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, know you are watching an evolving game and that it is safer than it has ever been. Football has great life lessons and instead of shunning it, let’s all come together to make the game safer.

Eric Buchman:

The thrill of watching a player get up after a big hit has been replaced with the concern that he’s unknowingly suffering permanent brain damage – damage the N.F.L. has gone to extreme lengths to cover up. While the N.F.L. punished Mike Vick for victimizing animals for sport, they knowingly victimized humans for sport.

Further, the N.F.L.’s influence has turned college athletics into a minor league with major problems. Players are recruited too young, used up too quickly, and left ill-prepared for the real world when their careers flame out, their young bodies riddled with arthritis, their future brains ripe with C.T.E.

Latria Graham:

The San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland retired last year at age 24 because of concerns about concussions. But John Urschel, an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens who loves the challenge and elegance of mathematics, continues to play because he loves the game as well.

They are free to make their choices. Sports have the potential to give voices to the disenfranchised, and they provide economic and educational opportunities available to young African-American men. When I profiled Josh Norman of the Carolina Panthers, I saw how he used his nonprofit, Starz24, to address issues of food insecurity and income disparity in his hometown of Greenwood, S.C. I realized that for some athletes, the football field is a platform for larger aspirations — it gives them a chance to nurture young athletes and be an inspiration in their communities.

Football is my favorite sport, hands down. My primary complaints with the NFL are the constant stoppage of play and the barrage of flags for the mildest infractions or celebrations — Roger Goodell has overseen its descent into the No Fun League.

A career in football undeniably has physical consequences, but so does any job that requires physical exertion. Talk to a 40-something construction worker, small farmer, or stewardess and they’ll complain about the aches, pains, and surgeries required from their often grueling routine. If physical safety was the only concern, we would ban millions of jobs as inhumane.

I agree most with ex-NFLer Marvin Washington who notes that the game is safer than it has ever been and will only get better. What do you think, Ricochetti: has the recent coverage of football-related injuries lessened your enthusiasm for the game?

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  1. Duane Oyen Member
    Duane Oyen
    @DuaneOyen

    Gosh, I’m stricken with remorse.

    But every story like this seems to push the single traumatic injury scenario, while every example they offer is about repeated small hits using helmets as the lead element.  And the case is proved by the fact that 100% of NFL-players are brain-damaged when they retire and die early as a result.  Oh, wait….

    We really need government to protect us, though, since football players could never take voluntary responsibility to assume risk in exchange for a few million dollars.

    • #1
  2. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    I didn’t read the OP, but I have only two words for Panther’s quarterback Cam Newton:  “concussion protocol”.

    • #2
  3. Sabrdance Member
    Sabrdance
    @Sabrdance

    As Duane notes, the problem is that the NFL, in the quest for exciting hits, has completely thrashed the form of the game so that players idiotically lead with their heads.  As any rugby player (or for that matter, competent football coach) could tell you, spearing your opponent is a terrible way to tackle, inefficient and dangerous.

    All those NFL reforms do nothing -the big hits are not the issue -it’s the terrible form of the tacklers.

    • #3
  4. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Let’s see. Young men, who know the risk, are paid millions to work about 3 hours, 16 days a year.
    Meanwhile, our troops risk their lives for pennies, and we increase their risk with idiot regulations and ROE’s that make every decision they make a legal land mine.

    I’ll watch my football guilt free.

    • #4
  5. livingthehighlife Inactive
    livingthehighlife
    @livingthehighlife

    Ah yes, the annual moral superiority parade.

    G-d, leftists are so disgustingly sanctimonious.

    • #5
  6. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    In all seriousness, can anyone watch football today and not see the strides the NFL has taken to protect the players?  Can they do more?  I’m sure they can.  But you can’t say they haven’t done something…

    • #6
  7. lesserson Member
    lesserson
    @LesserSonofBarsham

    “Football and its unavoidable violence is becoming a moral dilemma (at the testosterone deficient ‘nannies save the world’ gluten free play dates I go to)”

    edit: This is what the author of the article in the Cleveland Dead Tree left out, not our esteemed John Gabriel.

    • #7
  8. Lazy_Millennial Inactive
    Lazy_Millennial
    @LazyMillennial

    Props to Rush Limbaugh for predicting this years ago. Lefties coming after football.

    • #8
  9. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    The Plain Dealer is just looking out for the well-being of us Browns fans. The team and organization is such a disaster – the fans have suffered way more than the players. We do have a moral dilemma: why do we continue to follow such a lousy team?

    But to answer your question, no, the coverage of these injuries has not lessened my enthusiasm for the game – it is my favorite sport to watch on TV.

    • #9
  10. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Rich guy has physically demanding career and dies at 80. Oh Noes!!!!!!

    • #10
  11. Weeping Inactive
    Weeping
    @Weeping

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: What do you think, Ricochetti: has the recent coverage of football-related injuries lessened your enthusiasm for the game?

    Well, I’m not into sports in general so it’s kind of hard to care less about something that you don’t care about in the first place. :o)

    Having said that, everyone on a professional football field is there by choice. No one was dragged out of his house and forced to suit up and play. And by now, surely they all know the dangers and possible consequences. of playing the sport. So do I feel sorry for someone who’s been given the chance to live his dream and has chosen to do so? Nope, not in the least.

    • #11
  12. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: “Is it immoral to watch the Super Bowl?”

    No.

    It’s not immoral to watch cop shows just because some policemen are rogue cops.

    It’s not immoral to go to church just because some priests or pastors molest children.

    It’s not immoral to have a beer just because some people drive drunk and kill others.

    In short, the liberal mindset is that we should avoid having a good time, or avoid believing in something just because the world is not perfect.

    • #12
  13. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    I wonder if the NYT ever considers not putting out a paper on a day when they have nothing sensible to say?

    • #13
  14. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    I find pro football completely uninteresting. That said, the answer to the NYT’s question is a no-brainer:

    No. It is not immoral to watch the Superbowl.

    Next question.

    Seawriter

    • #14
  15. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    Jon Gabriel

    What do you think, Ricochetti: has the recent coverage of football-related injuries lessened your enthusiasm for the game?

    Not at all.

    • #15
  16. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    But if the feminist harpies succeed in banning cheerleaders, that just might curb my enthusiasm.

    • #16
  17. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    I predict that in 25 years there won’t be an NFL or any such thing as “big-time college football”. The lefties and feminists cannot let it stand. Too male. Too violent. Too meritocratic. Too dangerous.

    Too bad. Football is glorious. It is one of my favorite things about America.

    • #17
  18. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Rodin:I wonder if the NYT ever considers not putting out a paper on a day when they have nothing sensible to say?

    If that were the case, they’d never put out a paper.

    • #18
  19. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Charlotte: I predict that in 25 years there won’t be an NFL or any such thing as “big-time college football”. The lefties and feminists cannot let it stand. Too male. Too violent. Too meritocratic. Too dangerous.

    As soon as 2 or 3 high schools lose lawsuits because of injuries, the insurance companies will stop covering football.  When the pros lose their farm teams, they’ll wither and die.

    • #19
  20. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Well, I’m not watching the Super Bowl anyway. It’s a precautionary thing. Watching might cause me to beat up my wife.

    • #20
  21. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Pitchers and catchers report: 10 days, 6 hours.

    • #21
  22. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Charlotte:I predict that in 25 years there won’t be an NFL or any such thing as “big-time college football”. The lefties and feminists cannot let it stand. Too male. Too violent. Too meritocratic. Too dangerous.

    Too bad. Football is glorious. It is one of my favorite things about America.

    Your last sentence is why liberals will never conquer football.  It is a glorious game . . .

    • #22
  23. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Questions:

    A) Which team sport has the highest death rate?

    B) What do the following names represent?

    • Ray Chapman
    • Chuck Hughes
    • Bill Masterson

    C) What is the only sport banned by the NCAA for being too dangerous yet still exists on the professional level?

    Answers:

    A) The highest death rate is basketball. More basketball players die suddenly while participating in games or practice than any other sport. Researchers aren’t quite sure why. Some of it is genetic. African Americans, who dominate the sport, are more susceptible to heart arrhythmia problems than whites. For others, it turns out it is Marfan Syndrome (Think tall.)

    Others think it is related to the sport itself with the rapid starting, slowing and stopping pace of the game.

    B) Each of these men represent the only on-field deaths in the history of their respected professional sports.

    Chapman (MLB) was the starting shortstop for the Cleveland Indians for the beginning of the 1920 American League season. At twilight in a game against the New York Yankees, Chapman took a fastball in the head from pitcher Carl Mays. Witnesses say he never moved and probably never saw the pitch.

    Chuck Hughes was a WR for the Detroit Lions. Hughes died on the field at Tiger Stadium in October of 1971. The cause was a heart attack.

    Bill Masterson played center for the expansion Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He collided with two opposing defensemen in a game in January of 1968, fell backwards and hit his head on the ice. He died 30 hours later.

    C) Before 1960, boxing was an NCAA sport. Then University of Wisconsin boxer Doug Moe took a right to the temple, collapsed into a coma and died eight days later.

    All told, on the professional level 51 boxers have died from injuries sustained in the ring. But who are we to deny the poor, underprivileged fighter from his chance to escape a life of poverty?

    • #23
  24. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Son of Spengler:Well, I’m not watching the Super Bowl anyway. It’s a precautionary thing. Watching might cause me to beat up my wife.

    It’s all the rage, you know.

    • #24
  25. Sheila S. Inactive
    Sheila S.
    @SheilaS

    I have no sympathy for the pros. The NFL should be ashamed for covering up the evidence, but now that the information is out there, players know the risk they’re taking by continuing to play and they are well compensated.

    Having said that, we do need to face the reality that you don’t get to the NFL without playing for a college team, and you don’t get to be an elite college football player without a lot of playing time as a child. The college dilemma doesn’t really bother me: the players are adults. If the coaches fully inform them of the risks and they consent to play, I don’t really care. The NCAA can set up a fund to assist (if needed) former players (the ones who didn’t make it to the pros) with football related medical conditions. Elite schools make a ton of money off these kids, so it’s only right for them to make sure their football-related medical expenses are taken care of.

    It’s the young kids that causes a twinge of sympathy. Is a 10 yo able to make an informed decision about the risks? Are mom and dad counting on an NFL career to compensate for the risks they are taking with their son’s health? These are the concerns which should at least be discussed.

    But no, I don’t think anyone should feel guilty for watching the Superbowl.

    • #25
  26. Robert McReynolds Inactive
    Robert McReynolds
    @RobertMcReynolds

    I’ve been watching the pre-game for about an hour. For some reason I am feeling a sense of melancholy. I get the sense that this 50th Super Bowl will be the high water mark of professional football. I feel as though the game that I loved as a boy is gone forever and that this game will be its swan song. I have a book of pictures about the NFL going back to the 50s called Guts and Glory and I just have to say that some of those pictures will never be replicated by the generations to come. That last vestiges of this great game are still visible in the college game, but how long with that last. My feelings about football are very similar to my feelings about the United States. A once great thing made to look contrived and labored. It’s become so big that it can’t do anything else but collapse on itself. Good bye football. You were truly once a great game.

    • #26
  27. Cat III Member
    Cat III
    @CatIII

    Check out the interviews, articles and speeches Daniel Flynn has done on the subject. He wrote a book about it too.

    • #27
  28. Robert McReynolds Inactive
    Robert McReynolds
    @RobertMcReynolds

    EJHill:B) Each of these men represent the only on-field deaths in the history of their respected professional sports.

    Chapman (MLB) was the starting shortstop for the Cleveland Indians for the beginning of the 1920 American League season. At twilight in a game against the New York Yankees, Chapman took a fastball in the head from pitcher Carl Mays. Witnesses say he never moved and probably never saw the pitch.

    This was toward the end of the “Dead Ball Era.” Back in the early days of baseball, pitchers could do all kinds of things with the ball to get an edge on the hitters. They would spit on it or rub it continuously in the dirt creating a brown patina on the ball. As the pitcher wound up and got to his release point, the ball would blend in with the back walls of the outfield and the hitters would generally never see the ball coming. If the pitch got away from the pitcher, the chances of getting hit were pretty good and a shot in the head was a bad sign.

    Now the balls are bright white and are changed out after about every at bat. Estimates are that about 64 balls are used for each game in the Majors.

    • #28
  29. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Robert McReynolds: I’ve been watching the pre-game for about an hour.

    There is no power on earth that could make my watch a Super Bowl Pregame again. Interminable and insufferable.

    • #29
  30. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    John & all,

    Far out!

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #30
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