On twitter - @AsherMathews - I have been struggling with both my love of the NFL and football in general and my disgust with the mental and physical long term injuries that are becoming more and more prevalent, it seems.
The questions that I posed were:
If, indeed, FB causes long term mental & physical issues, can we, in good conscience, support it? Is it fair to the plyrs?
If we do continue to support it, are we any better than, say, Romans who gloried over gladiators killing each other?
What would cause you to stop supporting FB as the rules are now? That is, if not changed, you would no longer be a fan.
If concussions do indeed cause long term Mental issues, is it fair to allow young men to risk their life simply for entertainment?
There were many good responses but it is difficult to discuss these issues and fully articulate thoughts in 140 characters.
So, please use this post as a forum to express your views in the comments:
My opinion is let them be. The players choose to play football fully knowing the risks (and I cannot believe any player that says they didn't). They earn a lot of money for putting their body through these risks. I noticed a reference to Hunger Games below and think this is wrong. Hunger Games, the competitors were forced to compete. Football the players are not (note I am talking about NFL here not some junior football where the parents may be forcing their kids to play). The reference regarding Hunger Games also noted it was similar because some of these players are being "forced" to play this game for the money to feed their families. I do not buy this either. In some ways sure, but that could stop every easily once they got to College. If these players are getting football scholarships they and feel like they are being "forced" to play football for the chance to better support their families maybe they need to take full advantage of their time in college to get their degrees to work towards a "decent" job and they are not being forced to enter the NFL from college. It is all their choice.
As for the discussion on concussions I do think all head shots need to be flagged. I do a lot of travel for work but now consider my place of residence being in New Zealand. Over here in NZ and Australia there are three main sports that are similar to football: Rugby Union, Rugby League and the AFL (Aussie Rules). All are brutal in their own right but none have the same issues with after football concussions that the NFL does and some I consider to be more brutal than the NFL! First of all, in none of these sports do the players generally wear any sort of body protection - helmets, pads etc. But I will use Rugby League as an example here.
Rugby League play two halves of 40 mins each. They have 13 players on the field for each team and the players play both offense and defense. They are allowed just 10 subsitutions for the entire team a game. A full season would be a schedule of 26 weeks which includes 2 byes but does not include any playoffs or rep football (playing for their country for example which happens throughout the season). They start playing in the NRL which is the equilvant of the NFL pretty much from as young as 17 and tend to retire early - mid 30's. Yet again they do not have the issues with concussions that the NFL seems to have. I see 2 main differences:
1. The biggest of the big guys are around 6'4" and 275 lbs.
2. NO HEAD SHOTS ARE ALLOWED.
The second difference to me is the main one. No tackles etc are allowed above the neck. Plain and simple. If it happens the team is awarded a penalty and if it is blatant and considered bad enough the offended can be sent from the field. This means he is not allowed to return to the field and the team isn't allowed to bring on a replacement for him - so the team now must play with 12 men against 13! You can imagine how well this would go down with his team mates if this was to occur. Not to mention they can still suffer suspensions for other games as well. If the NFL wants to get serious about concussions it is simple. No shots above the head. End of story.
I wonder which % is higher:
the % of Pro football athletes who suffer from a football-related injury post-retirement v the % of office workers who suffer from office-related injury post-retirement ? (eg heart attacks, hyper tension, back problems, high blood pressure etc)
But like Keanu Reeves in Devils Advocate, I smile back and go support the molester (not knowing full picture) @AsherMathews
I look in the mirror on sports and see wasted time on my end and wasted bodies on theirs (sometimes). cont. @AsherMathews
This whole bounty hoopla is example. Same injuries, different perspective equates to outrage. We like not knowing true risk @AsherMathews
I enjoy the sport, I don't want a change, I don't want morality if it would spell end. cont. @AsherMathews
Maybe answer known, it isn't a big deal. Maybe it is. I think we are afraid to know true effects. I admit I am. cont. @AsherMathews
In the end fans are absolutely deserving of blame. We are content with merriment and don't really demand answers cont. @AsherMathews
I don't know if those of you in Litening status see the Twitter responses but there's some great discussion from @Jamalisms below
... but I am rarely perfect and allow numerous excuses, some of which are valid, to permit my enjoyment of a sport that kills @AsherMathews
Probably the best course would be to demand answers, to not just get sucked in and absorbed by game. cont. @AsherMathews
... absent that, they (the league owners) are hiding a bit. That's where I truly sense a problem. @AsherMathews
Here's the thing: Like it or not, America is a violent nation built on violent actions and thoughts. Whether iot's cowboys, soldiers, or football players, America loves and celebrates violent individuals for being violent. What is interesting, though, is that we are also a nation built on morals and sympathy, of which clearly the two are at odds with one another. IMO, this is why America loves the "revenge" story or movie: We want to engage in violence, but feel bad if there is not a moral defense to back it up. Take a recent example: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. There is a scene where the main girl is raped, and several scenes later, she exacts her revenge on the man by tying him up and brutally disfiguring him. When I saw this in the movies, EVERYONE cheered, because it was an outlet for all of the violent tendencies pent up, while having it be okay because she didn't violate our nations morality clause. I believe in English it's called, "having your cake and eating it too."
As with most things, it is the degree which matters and I think #NFL lesser degree.... cont. @AsherMathews
... in Hunger Games, need 4 food causes some 2 add name to drawing for rations. There's a parallel, though unsure how strong. @AsherMathews
... but in poverty stricken areas, it is a hope and a sacrifice on oneself for the family, not unlike a recent movie... cont. @AsherMathews
An interesting point is the pre-NFL financial situation many players are in. My kids won't play. I have a choice ... cont. @AsherMathews
That it disturbs our conscience doesn't mean it is inherently wrong, but if one is being intellectually honest, must consider @AsherMathews
@AsherMathews In good conscience, no. Brutality of #NFL clearly weighs on the conscience of many, including league lawyers.
Long term risk factors are now and have been well documented for individuals who participate in high collision sports such has the NFL. We live in a society that loves big hits and praises a gladiator mentality. The movies Jackass was highly successful and it served no purpose but to inflict pain and sufferage to eachother at the expense of others pleasure. So why do people participate in such activities? Money. Have you seen Mohammad Ali lately? Do you not think boxers understand the health risks behind their sport? Its the high monetary pay out as well as the love of the sport that continues to drive idividuals to partake in such activities. I'm sure if you asked 10 ordinary people making minimum wage if they would put on helments and hit eachother all day for millions of dollars, every one of them would gladly accept. I would feel for past NFL players if they didn't know the possible health risks associated with their profession, but a nine year old could tell you bashing your head into a wall a thousand times will cause cognitive issues. They understand the risk, and they sign on the dotted line- so play ball
@RaiderNation319 I made the point on Twitter that for one million dollars there would probably be people who would run across a firing range with people shooting at them. That doesn't meant that we, as a society, should stand aside and let them take that risk, does it?
@AsherMathews I see your point how society may have little remorse or care for the safety of people at the expense of entertainment. However, comparing running around getting shot and killed and playing a sport is a stretch in comparison. Your right, there is a line that shouldn't be crossed but playing a sport like football isn't crossing it
But who as a society are we to try and stop them if that is what they choose to do. If it is their Freedom of Rights to do this, and it does not effect others who do not want to participate then why should we have the right to stop them?
Would you be in favor of eliminating kickoffs or punts in some ways as those are some of the primary causes of injuries and collisions?
I have far more problem with boxing, where the whole objective is to incapacitate the opponent. The football authorities need to be vigilant in ensuring that rules and equipment help to minimize injuries for sure. That includes cracking down on drug use which is a major contributor to mental and physical problems.
@oaklandraider I also have much more of a problem with boxing. I totally agree on making PED tests a primary issue.
Does the NFL have the responsibility to regulate what kind of equipment the players use? Should they require players to use the latest equipment, like concussion helmets?
@AsherMathews Definitely. I'm not familiar with all latest technology but why not use it, if it's available?
@oaklandraider It's preference right now. Aaron Rodgers wears a better helmet which is why it looks so large on his head. Eli Manning does, too. Many do not. To many.
If a player refuses / does not want to wear these helmets which are suppose to protect against concussions then they should not have too. They should however then have to sign a disclaimer saying that they are then forfeiting their right in the future to make claims against the NFL for concussions etc. This should have to be signed with their attorney present so that they cannot sign the NFL mislead them and this is fully explained clearly to themselves.
@AsherMathews like I said on Twitter, guys who dont wear those helmets hurt THE GAME as much, if not more, than they do themselves. Id be willing to bet that they hold out their hand for benefits and/or cry "foul" if they suffer from the effect of concussions after they retire. The helmets should be compulsory.
For those who are "listening" in, do we as a society have a responsibility to limit what others do? Or should people be able to do whatever they want, regardless of the risk, because it's their own life?
@AsherMathews You need some limits because my actions have consequences outside of my life... Eg if I shoot someone. The only question is where society draws the line. I live in Singapore and the line is drawn in a very different place than it is in USA.
@oaklandraider Where is the line in Singapore? More or less than in US?
@AsherMathews Ill give you a clue. One of these countries is called "The Land of the Free" ... the other one makes chewing gum illegal and has a death penalty for drug use ! ;)
Pros and cons: Singapore is incredibly safe and as close to crime free as you are going to find anywhere in the world. USA is a lot more fun :)