Link to my Friday column about violence, guilt and the NFL.
So Lowell, is Russian Roulette ok as long as people are informed about the odds?
Hoosgow, What is your point about the NFL? Do you watch games?
Yes – grown ups making their own decisions.
It’s too bad the players can’t be left alone to do
what it takes to keep their bodies strong and at
It appears likely that Peyton Manning along with
many pro football players have taken drugs to
help them perform better. Performance enhancing
How do you think players get so big these days?
Lollipops? How do they survive and thrive after
career threatening neck injuries?
Look at baseball. Grown ups doing what they can to
be the best they can be, with owners that reward them
greatly after raking in record profits.
Now we are told an entire generation
of the game was a fraud because of
My sentiments exactly. Well said!
It all starts at youth football. You notice how guys who played in the 50s’, 60’s and even into the 70s don’t seem to have the same level of trauma as those in the late 70s, 80s, etc? Its first and foremost because they grew up and played in an era when you didn’t lead with your head, your head wasn’t a weapon, the helmet was very rudimentary and you were leading with your shoulder (ask Ronnie Lott).
Kids need to be taught heads up football and this issue with brain trauma and damage will decrease a lot. Also, get stronger drug testing, these men aren’t “bigger, faster, stronger” by the grace of God, if the NFL and the players wanted to get the brain damage issue out of the game (or down to a low level) they’d get the trigger mechanisms out of the game (leading with your heads and PED’s).
I don’t feel guilty for watching and cheering and loving football…being punch drunk (the old term for brain damage) has been around since the 20s (I’d assume) and these players knew what they signed up for, the risks and the rewards…to the tune of millions upon millions of dollars.
My issue – and the reason I stopped watching football this year – is that you can’t simply look at the NFL on its own, and ignore amateur athletics. Why? Because there is no NFL without amateur athletics, and there’s no amateur version of football that isn’t violent. Nine kids (elementary or high school) this year died playing football. Nine! can you imagine the outrage if nine kids died doing any other school and parent-sanctioned activity? That activity would be shut down immediately.
The nice thing about fighting (both boxing and mixed martial arts), is that techniques and disciplines are learned and practiced, rather than the competitive sport. Generally, fighters don’t actually enter the ring and put their health at risk until they are at an adult age, and can make those choices for themselves….up until then, they practice on punching bags, practice karate, and other things. Sadly, this is impossible in football.
So, it seems like there is some hypocrisy in your opinion, because you can’t isolate the NFL from youth football; you can’t support one but not the other. As long as the NFL is popular, glorifies domestic abusers, and makes no attempts to become safer, youth football will continue to have countless on-field deaths and myriad locker-rook rape cases.
I envy your cognitive dissonance, but I sure as hell don’t agree with it.
brady,I understand your moral outrage. How many kids died skateboarding or swimming or bike riding? I bet more than playing football. Is number of deaths your criterion?
Lowell – fair point. I wouldn’t say that number of deaths is my criterion, but rather whether those deaths are unavoidable. There’s no “safe” way of playing competitive football, at any level. A quick google search for skateboard deaths in recent years shows that about 90% of them occurred via vehicle-pedestrian collisions (being hit crossing the street, etc.,), with the other 10% or so occurring when a skateboarder did something very dangerous (rode down an extremely steep hill, etc.). There were no reported deaths that occurred at skate parks, so, in theory, a parent that makes sure their kid is only skating in skate parks and back decks and garages is going to protect their child’s life.
Sadly, football does not have the equivalent of a skate park, and likely never will, unless flag football is adopted as the youth version of the sport. The other problem I see is the head trauma, which is pretty particular to football; we have studies on how much adults are ruining their brains playing football (and I completely agree with you that that’s their prerogative), but we don’t know how much youth athletes are damaging their brains playing the sport.
brady, i appreciate your points about skateboarding. i imagine some bicycling and swimming deaths are unavoidable. Good swimmers go swimming, take the correct precautions and drown. Same with bike riding. I know experienced bikers who have broken shoulders. Happily, I don’t know any who died.
Wow, Lowell and I on the same side of a debate! How cool is that.
For those on the other side – what are your thoughts about the military? Voluntary, kids (18 years old) not totally knowing what they are doing but doing what they think they should for a whole lot less pay than the NFL. Should we ban that? Where do you draw the line on your desire to tell others on what they should or should not be doing.
For what it is worth, I stopped watching boxing when Howard Cosell stopped announcing it. Watching two guys try to beat each other to a pulp did not do it for me. But I never thought for one second that boxing should be banned. Same thing goes for cage fighting. I don’t like it but that is my choice.
“Are you not entertained?”
“Is that not why you are here?”
More fitting words could not be whispered, uttered, spoken or shouted from the top of the highest mountain.
Sports, at the highest level most competitive level, where the athletes are paid (and at a kings ransom for many) is just that: Entertainment.
Period. End of story. Case closed.
And like any other form of entertainment, those who choose to participate have to understand the risks, the demands, both physically and mentally on their body, mind and soul, of that choice.
Think I am wrong?
Ask any musical performer at the highest level of the toll on them.
Actors and Actresses? Same. The physical and mental toll on them has pushed more than a few to search for ways to stimulate their bodies above and beyond limits.
And yet do we hold them to standards like sports purists want to do with professional athletes?
Look, as a parent of a young athlete, I endeavor to teach my child how to play the sport the right way, to do so with integrity and honor. Perhaps some day he will have to make a decision on his own to pursue a chosen sport at a higher level. To weigh the risks and rewards associated with those kinds of decisions. And that is a choice that he will have to confront as will many other young men and women as they move forward in any pursuit, athletic or otherwise.
So, just ask yourself, are you not entertained?
Agreed. Personally, I wouldn’t allow my son to play football either. Nothing wrong with soccer, baseball, basketball, etc…
Speaking of scandals, I sure would like to hear your opinion on the growing ties between sports betting organizations and pro sports. I find it appalling that these ties continue to grow stronger economically. Whose interest is it to keep a level playing field any more? And isn’t that level playing field essential for true competition? It seems just a matter of finding the right mathematical formula to only cheat enough not to alarm any outside agencies or whistle blowers. Find the correct balance between cheating and clean sport. ESPN OTL did a nice comprehensive piece on this yesterday and I’d love to hear your opinion on it Lowell.
I don’t watch much football anymore because I am no longer entertained. Four or more mangled bodies each game – not entertaining. Umpteen reviews, especially after every touchdown or turnover, and the subsequent commercial break – not entertaining. When is a catch not a catch, for goodness sake – not entertaining. Utterly incompetent officials – not entertaining. A plethora of penalties – not entertaining. On the other hand, I did find Tomsula entertaining because he was such a boob, but I didn’t watch many 49er games, instead choosing to read you, Grant and Tim for the entertainment you provided me.
And then there’s racing. These guys actually die out there. Big names, too. Senna, Earnhardt, Wheldon. Not that it really matters, or course, big name or small, but can you imagine if during the same time period, say, Aikman, Brady and Roethlisberger all died during games? But you don’t see any hand wringing about enjoying racing, do you? What’s up with that?
Don’t feel bad for not liking it.
Billionaires moving out of cities that helped them make that money.
Billionaires not hiring full time refs.
Billionaires … (insert many other things of choice).
I’ve taken up the fiddle, something I’ve failed at two or three times over the past 50 years. My cats look like they would rather die than to hear me play “Little Sadie” one more time on the screech box.
In other news, have any of you checked the Homepage of the Chron — sfgate? Looks like the Enquirer, absolutely rock bottom sex/$$$/violence/sleaze. Used to be such a fine paper years ago.
@TMC…billionaires don’t become billionaires by being financially stupid.
BTW, the average..AVERAGE…NFL referee salary is 173,000. They are getting paid handsomely for part time work, we should all be so lucky. As much as they are paid, they don’t need another job, they could spend the off season preparing. Imagine having a job where you worked 20 hrs a week tops, for at most 25 weeks of the year, and earned 175k or more. What a concept.
@MJ…Are you a season ticket holder? If so, you’re ok with a part time employee determining if your investment of time and money is returned? And you think that job is so easy you could just do it and count yourself lucky? For the amount of money on the line every game, I think you are under valuing the job.
Though my point was: I know they are not stupid
If they don’t want to help football players with dementia, and don’t want to keep a team in a community, and don’t want to **again insert all the stuff they could do though don’t want to because of $** that’s fine. Doesn’t mean people have to dismiss it and like the NFL.
Lowell Cohn has been covering Bay Area sports for more than 30 years and he’s never run out of things to say.