An important article by Nathaniel Rich in the New York Review of Books (3-5), focusing on the NFL, presents some information that is unsettling about the violence of the national obsession known as football and raises more questions about this dangerous sport.
To enjoy a game, he writes, "every thinking fan" must put aside the fact that nearly every current NFL player "can expect to suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative disease that leads to memory loss, impaired judgment, depression, and dementia."
Such players are also four times more likely to develop ALS and Alzheimer's, and they can expect to live twenty years less than the average American male.
So why do they do it and why do we put up with it? Do we crave its type of violence in an addictive way that trumps common sense? Or is football a substitute for real violence, a distraction from the horrors of the world? I wonder if the cult of masculinity leads to mass denial, especially when big bucks are at stake.
Sports have been called a glorious distraction; this one might be called a bloody, dangerous addiction. America is addicted to violence and to football.
Like Mr. Rich, I have no answers, only questions. I'm glad I have no young family members who might want to play football.