Over the last few months, I have had a shift in my watching of certain athletic events—specifically American football (a nod to my non-American readers, mainly the two readers of this blog from Trinidad & Tobago). My conundrum?
I just struggle with watching the sport now.
Before I delve into this personal matter, please do not misunderstand.
- I will not boycott the sport, nor call for one (the Disney boycott from years gone by proved a sufficient antidote for this Southern Baptist boy).
- I will still cheer on my Cincinnati Bengals.
- And I will cast no judgment on those who continue to watch.
But I’m struggling. Why? Simply put, the violent nature of the sport.
On August 17, I went to NFL.com to check out some of the headlines posted. Here they were:
- Broncos DE Wolfe taken from field in ambulance after hit to neck
- Dolphins TE Keller carted off field after gruesome knee injury
- Manuel needs minor knee procedure, out for Bills’ preseason
- Gabbert shines for Jags but exits with thumb sprain | Jets win
- Texans rookie Hopkins being evaluated for potential head injury
- Titans lose Ayers (ankle), Wright (knee) to injuries | Bengals roll
- Royal sustains bruised lung, concussion at Chargers practice
Recently, the NFL settled with retired players who sought $2 billion to “compensate retired players for concussion-related brain injuries, pay for medical exams and underwrite concussion-related research.” They settled for $765 million. For years, the NFL failed to provide this compensation, and numerous players have died from suicide and other forms of death due to the violent nature of the sport—great players such as Andre Waters, Dave Duerson, Junior Seau, and a number of others. The accumulation of this, plus other violent hits that, some experts say, (1) each tackle is like a traffic accident at 35 mph, and (2) the game takes 15 years off your life due to the toil on the body—it’s taking a toll on me as well.
Granted, the NFL is custom-made for TV. No wonder it’s so popular, and I’ve been a football fan for my entire life. But rejoicing in the big hits no longer holds its allure for me. I’ve gone from seeing them as objects in a uniform to actual people and souls—imagebearers of God—and I just cannot handle this aspect of it much longer.
Plus, I have other sports to choose from that I love to watch, mainly baseball (go Reds!) and soccer (go Arsenal and Colorado Rapids!). I know I can watch them without seeing a car accident numerous times on a play.
I haven’t pulled the plug yet.
But I don’t know how much longer I can hold out.
Am I alone in this?