Yeah, I’m not going to watch the Super Bowl this weekend. I have no rooting interest, the halftime show is pop drivel and I’m not a fan of the untrammeled capitalism that actually has made a separate sport out of watching (and rating) the commercials.
But let’s get down to brass tacks. It’s not just the Super Bowl. Football is a stain on American life. Football is popular because it works well on television, has the constant stops and starts that feeds our ADHD culture and it lends itself so easily to gambling. Football promotes a culture of violence, mindless conservative patriotism and corporate avarice. The league and its team owners revel in its success in breaking the players union–all the while it has refused to seriously address the horrible brain trauma and disability that the sport inflicts on the players–coincidence? I think not.
In fact, all the prior offenses against our society that I accused football of in the preceding paragraph all pale before the brain injury issue. Just this week, another deceased NFL veteran (Mosi Tatupu) was revealed to have suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the brain damage that players with too many shots to the helmet must deal with. I can no longer sit and watch a football game, cheering the jarring “big hit.” We are cheering for the intentional infliction of tragic physical harm upon another human being.
Players diagnosed with CTE have committed suicide, murders and physical abuse of spouses and children. Players just in their 40’s and 50’s have the physical disabilities and dementia normally associated with the infirm elderly. It is neither humane nor civil to revel in this carnage.
I’m not a person who dislikes sports. But I can no longer tolerate watching football. Watching what has happened to Muhammad Ali was what made me give up watching boxing. The same has happened with football.
Three weeks ’til Red Sox spring training–that’s the sports headline for me this weekend.