Monday, October 25, 2010

The Making of Sausages and Sports

This New York Times article raises a question I had not previously considered: whether or not it's morally defensible to watch football, given recent information about the long-term brain damage caused by frequent head trauma.

Can we really feel good about watching people give themselves and each other brain damage every week? They're still not fighting to the death, so we've got that going for us, but nevertheless...

And we might find it hard to feel too badly for the superstars who make millions of dollars to take these kinds of risks--not that early dementia is a good deal, but at least they got something out of it.

But what about all those players who aren't superstars and don't make millions of dollars, but maybe have to quit while young due to injury? They get to risk severe physical injury and brain damage for our entertainment and don't even get piles of money out of it.

The piece makes an interesting comparison:

Watching football has become a bit like eating meat. We have more information about the carnage involved before it ends up on our plates. But we have a taste for it, so we do not want to think too hard about it.

Are our fond conceptions about the value of physical exercise and teamwork and sportsmanship no sounder a justification than our fond conceptions of happy green farms where cheerful cows and pigs and chickens lead rich, full lives before winding up on our plates?

Well, I'll leave you sports fans to wrestle with this heady philosophical problem. I've already sworn off watching football for personal reasons*, so I don't really have an angle here.

*Or one personal reason, which is that I personally find it boring.

1 comment:

brian said...

I absolutely agree with you. Football is no longer the game it used to be (at least pro football). If you look at penalties, there are more personal fouls for facemask infractions, etc.

I had an untreated concussion in high school while playing soccer - nobody attended to me, and I was afraid to tell my parents. Why do I know this? Because I saw stars and had a large bump on my head.

There really were no "head shots" in football years ago, or at least as barbaric as now :-(