With last week’s Question of the Week, we asked readers whether they believed football was too dangerous. Here are some of the responses we received.
Life is risk
Is football too dangerous? Look at the benefits of the game — building teamwork and leadership and providing a healthy way to vent natural aggression while building a sense of competitiveness that will help lead to success in life.
Leaving all that aside, the thing most dangerous is saying anything is too dangerous to engage in because that assertion alone weakens us and our culture. Life is risk. Proper risk assessment and risk management are the parameters of happiness.
Anything you do can get you killed, including doing nothing at all. Every sport has an inherent hazard associated with it. I didn’t hear anyone call for a cessation of horseback riding when the late Christopher Reeve had his accident that left him a quadriplegic and eventually took his life. Recently a tragic accident took the life of a parachutist in our own backyard. Who’s calling for an end to that sport? LIFE IS RISK.
Money drives football
Why do you suppose people play flag football? Human beings pursue many dangerous pastimes: Mountain climbing, auto racing, ice hockey, boxing, sky diving and cliff diving, to name a few. Even baseball, a rather civilized sport by comparison, is dangerous. But football is the most dangerous sport.
Everyone knows that sports can be dangerous, so players protect themselves. Hockey goalies wear shields and guards to protect themselves against 100 mph slap shots; batters wear headgear to protect themselves from 90 mph fastballs; equestrians and bicycle riders wear helmets to keep their brains inside their heads when they fall. Football players wear about 15 pounds of padding.
Your question assumes that football is dangerous and we know it is. You asked if it’s too dangerous, which calls for an opinion.
Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t play football, even if I were fit and 20 years old, because it’s dangerous. Of course, when I was fit and 20, I had other ideas. But I don’t see how you can dial back the danger quotient in football after more than 100 years of development. I believe the sport will not change. Perhaps more protective gear will be available and perhaps some tackles or blocks will be banned. Or maybe more people will play flag football.
The thrill of danger — in any sport — will always attract people; it’s human nature. And the more thrilling the spectacle, the more people it will attract. And the more fans at games, the more money will be made. Money, I believe, is the main driver of danger in football.
Everybody makes money on college and professional football: the players, the coaches, the owners, the schools, the bookies, the beer distributors, the TV networks, even the parking lot makes money. But only the players court danger.
If money were not available to pay everyone and to build colossal stadiums, football would be as safe as swimming. If there were no money to pay Damar Hamlin, would he have suited up and played? Would he be hospitalized?
So to answer your question, yes, football is too dangerous, and everyone knows it. But as long as there is money to be made, fans will have tailgaters and players will be injured.
THE REV. JEFF BRIERE