|A little air guitar at Lambeau for my kiddo|
After all, this is America. It's Wisconsin! Bum-bum-bum-ba-da-da-dum! Go Pack Go!
Look, I still enjoy football, but I'd be lying if I said that recent developments regarding the sport's devastating long-term effects haven't impacted the way I watch. Whereas I used to stand up and high-five my friends following a bone jarring hits or a blindside quarterback sack, I now cringe a bit and hope the guy on the receiving end still knows his own name in 30 years.
The roots of my crisis of faith in the NFL stretch back to the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Games when I watched Muhammad Ali try to light the Olympic Torch. Just 20 years earlier, Ali was the greatest athlete on the planet. But repeated blows the head rendered him--still only 54 years old--a shell of his former physical glory.
I love the idea of boxing. Two fighters get in the ring and duke it out until only one is left standing. Passion. Will. Resolve. I'm the type of guy that would love to have a bunch of guys over to watch a heavyweight title bout on Pay-Per-View. But when I remember seeing Ali try to light that torch, I just can't do it. I'm much more disgusted when I see highlights or promotional pieces for UFC. I know its proponents claim MMA is safer than boxing, but when I can't find a way to justify any sport that involves pinning a guy to the ground and repeatedly punching him in the face. It's barbaric.
Certainly, football is not as ruthless because the primary goal of a linebacker is not necessarily to incapacitate the quarterback. But the sport still requires actual violence with actual long-term, debilitating consequences. Real human beings and real families are impacted by memory loss, early dementia, and possibly suicide. Doctors initially couldn't guarantee that Packer tight end Jermichael Finley would be able to move his arms again after his injury last month.
Still, he intends to resume his career. Because football.
I hope that somehow the game can be saved (even as I resolve to never, ever let my kids play). And I understand that the players are adults who know the risks and are compensated heavily for them. I'm not saying we should ban football nor that it's wrong to be a fan. I'm just saying that as I tune in on Sunday afternoons, I can't help but to wonder does my three hours of entertainment justify the violence of real damage being done to real human beings.
What do you think?