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A father’s dilemma: Is watching football immoral?
Two Carolina Panthers tackle Tennessee Titans' Justin McCareins. Injuries from hits like these have caused some to question the morality of watching football.
February 1st, 2014
08:56 PM ET

A father’s dilemma: Is watching football immoral?

Opinion by Patton Dodd, special to CNN

(CNN) - Three weeks ago, I sat down with my family to root for the Denver Broncos against the San Diego Chargers in the second round of the NFL playoffs. The Broncos were winning and it was all going swimmingly - until Henry, my 7-year-old son, started with the questions:

"Dad, have you decided that it's OK to watch football?"

"Dad, didn't you say were you worried about all the injured players?"

"Dad? What percentage of you thinks it's OK to watch football, and what percentage of you thinks it's wrong?"

Little kid wouldn't shut up.

It was our first football game since late October, when, after two years of wrestling with my conscience, I had decided to stop watching the sport I've loved all my life.

My childhood bedroom was a shrine to John Elway and the Broncos, so it was with special poignancy that right in the middle of Denver's most successful season ever, I opted to spend Sunday autumn afternoons raking leaves instead of cheering Peyton Manning's powerhouse performances.

If you've been paying even scant attention in recent years, you know football has been under the ethical microscope. The problems go beyond the bodily harm caused by the game (see Gregg Easterbrook on how the NFL abuses tax policies and the NCAA cheats student athletes). But the news on injuries has pricked our consciences in a special way.

As well it should. Thanks to the work of several dogged journalists, and despite the NFL's best efforts to subvert the truth, we now know that repeated blows to the head experienced in the normal course of football play can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a type of brain damage resulting in early onset dementia and severe (and, in the worst cases, suicidal) depression.

And thanks to accounts like Nate Jackson's riveting football memoir “Slow Getting Up,” we know that the game we love depends on legions of no-name guys who quietly sacrifice their bodies to the NFL's culture of constant pain, only to exit to a road to nowhere.

Jackson's memoir and other recent books don't just deliver the hard facts on football-induced brain and body damage. Crucially, they also acquaint us more intimately with the people who play the game.

The stories of players in these accounts challenge our moral imagination by forcing us to recognize that the uniformed men on the field are not just Football Players, but Persons - brothers, fathers, husbands, and sons like me.

One of my earliest football memories is watching the Dallas Cowboys' Tony Dorsett break off a 99.5-yard touchdown run against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football. I fell in love with Dorsett during that play. As a kid, I had a book called “The NFL's Greatest Plays,” and I read the chapter on Dorsett's long touchdown again and again.

A few months ago, Dorsett reported that he is experiencing symptoms associated with CTE. He has become prone to outbursts of anger, and he sometimes loses his way while taking his daughters to a familiar soccer practice field. His children admit to feeling nervous around their father these days.

When I read those stories, I realized anew that Dorsett is not just a well-compensated celebrity athlete whose skills I enjoyed. He is a father like me, and his kids are kids like mine. If I have a share in Dorsett's humanity, I have a vested interest in his well-being.

When I watch football now, I no longer just see dramatic rivalries, fascinating offensive and defensive strategies, and feats of physical genius. I no longer see my favorite players pitted against some other players. I see a bunch of individual human beings subjecting themselves to an intoxicating harm that could one day be their undoing.

By their wounds, we are entertained.

Sure, they do it willingly. Sure, many of them are handsomely paid. But will can be constrained by culture, and finances can be fleeting.

Last week, an ESPN poll found that 85% of NFL players said they would willingly play in the Super Bowl with a concussion. But how would they reflect on that choice a few years from now if, like Dorsett, they can't run simple errands with their children? How would they feel about that choice if, like Junior Seau or Dave Duerson, thoughts of suicide dominate their days? Will football glory have been worth it?

And do I want to cheer them into that future?

The Broncos' Wes Welker is playing in the Super Bowl after a season of multiple concussions. Can I root for him in good conscience knowing that the very plays I'm cheering - across-the-middle catches and countless hard blocks and collisions - could give him a condition that one day might lead him to take his own life?

Can I root for Football Players every week without caring one whit what happens to them as Persons away from football?

These are the questions football fans ought to be asking. Knowing what we know, are we still ready for some football?

My son Henry was asking me for morality clarity, but I admit I don't have it yet on football. What I have is deep ambivalence about a game I love.

On this Super Bowl Sunday, before we watch the game (Go Broncos!), my family will go to church together and worship a God who, as our tradition teaches, once had a body.

In large part because of the Incarnation, Christian theology emphasizes that bodies are sacred and that their sacredness requires us to treat every single body as an end, never as a mean.

Every person is a subject; no person is an object. I have total moral clarity on that score, as all Christians (and all people) should.

Can we rightly weigh football's risks as a society? Can football, especially commercialized football, be a sport that honors human bodies? Can we cheer the men who play this game without dehumanizing them? Can we support the afterlives of football players?

I sure hope so. If not, Henry's questions will force me to accept, and to teach him, that the only proper response is to give up football for good.

Patton Dodd is editor-in-chief of OnFaith. The views expressed in this column belong to Dodd.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Health • Opinion • Sports • Violence

soundoff (388 Responses)
  1. Angry Inch

    For many of these men, concussions help. Think of it like Mike Tyson the boxer. He is a Broadway star now. The blows to the head actually fixed his brain.

    February 2, 2014 at 10:28 am |
    • Angry Inch

      For others, the effect of the concussions are negative. Take Michael Strahan for example. The blows to the head turned him into a female day time talk show host.

      February 2, 2014 at 10:30 am |
      • Angry Inch

        Many of these football players have taken up dancing on television. Maybe there is a problem.

        February 2, 2014 at 10:31 am |
    • aldewacs2

      At the same time, think of the many, many 'stars' who beat the crap out of their wives.
      Not sure if that is due to their brain injuries, but it's not a big leap.

      February 2, 2014 at 10:42 am |
  2. Jim

    Sounds like crazy parenting to me - suggest to your kid that watching football is NOT OK, then decide to watch. Rather, he could have originally explained to his kid that it's a rough game, but they choose to play it, are paid exceedingly well, and wear some pretty extensive protection. He could then have explained that there are areas of concern and we should keep working on those things.

    February 2, 2014 at 10:19 am |
  3. maddmaxx

    you guys are all heavily left leaning sissies. The pussification of America continues, We love football because it requires toughness and intelligence, half of which you want to get rid of. Injuries occur regularly, its occasionally the price of the passion of our sport.

    February 2, 2014 at 10:11 am |
    • Angry Inch

      Football is the best sport ever.

      February 2, 2014 at 10:12 am |
      • igaftr

        The Legends Fottball league is the best football league.

        February 2, 2014 at 10:27 am |
    • igaftr

      maxx
      Look up CTE brain injury.

      February 2, 2014 at 10:15 am |
    • Mary

      And how many college or pro games did you play, maddmaxx? Or were you one of those guys who just sat in the bleaches and got his masculinity by osmosis from the real risk takers?

      February 2, 2014 at 10:16 am |
    • aldewacs2

      " ,, you guys are all heavily left leaning sissies. The pussification of America continues, We love football because it requires toughness and intelligence..."
      – – –
      Save it for the locker room, jock. In your roid-raged world, it's all about beating up and grinding somebody or something into dust, and you confuse that with manliness. Were you army or navy?
      And then you use words like intelligence ... you are confused, my friend.

      February 2, 2014 at 10:47 am |
    • Aussies Rule

      American football is barely even a sport. It sucks. Pads are for sissies.Most US football players aren't very bright, and they sure aren't tough. What a bunch of wimps and dimwits.

      Rugby Oi Oi Oi!

      February 2, 2014 at 11:26 am |
  4. Ken O

    It's just as immoral as reading religion blogs on CNN.

    February 2, 2014 at 10:08 am |
    • Angry Inch

      It's not immoral. Stupid and boring yes.

      February 2, 2014 at 10:10 am |
  5. Angry Inch

    I love football.

    February 2, 2014 at 10:06 am |
    • Angry Inch

      The father's dilemma is stupidity. What a baby.

      February 2, 2014 at 10:09 am |
  6. A. Reasoner

    So watching football is immoral, but then taking your children to hear adults tell them about their impending eternal torture for thought crime isn't? Threatening them with said torture if they don't believe ancient myths without question?

    February 2, 2014 at 10:04 am |
    • aldewacs2

      Apparently religious people have a special capacity to compartmentalize these moral issues.
      In any case, lying for Jeebus is encouraged.

      February 2, 2014 at 10:10 am |
    • Angry Inch

      Correct. God is mean so watch it.

      February 2, 2014 at 10:11 am |
    • Oil that transmission

      I think you slipped a gear. What are you comparing here?

      February 2, 2014 at 10:14 am |
      • aldewacs2

        You're on a belief blog. Pay attention, lube man.

        February 2, 2014 at 10:37 am |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        Obviously, the two moral acts described, dipsh!t.

        1. Thinking critically about financially supporting others whose job sometimes makes life-altering injury unavoidable
        2. Thinking critically about it being "good" and "god's perfect plan" to torture people in a pit of fire forever and ever with no respite because they didn't have a perfect opinion of some invisible, undetectable, and seemingly irrelevant afterlife-big-bully.

        You are able to feed yourself, yes?

        February 2, 2014 at 10:41 am |
  7. aldewacs2

    Personally I don't watch any sports, being of the belief that sports is something you do, not something you watch.
    But the author seems to be looking for a moral dilemma to struggle with. Surely there are REAL immoral things to worry about?
    And no, I'm not saying that the injuries are acceptable in human terms. They say more about the fact that these so called 'sports' are a (big) business, and the players are just a necessary means to a financial end. Fodder for the cash cannon. So what if they slowly turn into stumbling giants – they are replaceable with the next warm body selected from the college supply pipeline. Let the "games" continue.

    February 2, 2014 at 10:04 am |
  8. dlws

    After a certain age, the players participating in football should be intelligent enough to weigh the risks of playing against the rewards. I have zero compassion for adult football players at universities and in the pros. They should be able to understand the risks and they receive compensation far in excess of any long-term contributions they make. Besides, most of them would not qualify to do anything else.

    February 2, 2014 at 9:59 am |
    • sam stone

      sorry that you lack compassion

      February 2, 2014 at 10:03 am |
  9. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Until recently, slaves would do much of the work of the kind that destroyed people or at least broke them down. Ownership of people isn't allowed in much of the world just now. Instead, in progressive societies people use economic incentives to get other people to use themselves up for our entertainment, and to help massive amounts of wealth concentrate into the hands of the few that actually benefit from the work. The slaves are well paid. That costs the people who benefit from it comparatively little – they do well beyond the dreams of any slave owners of the past. The slaves are used much as they always have been – so long as they remain useful.

    February 2, 2014 at 9:55 am |
  10. meki60

    its un-Obama like

    February 2, 2014 at 9:36 am |
  11. Charn Quark

    Half time show.

    February 2, 2014 at 9:20 am |
  12. Saraswati

    Unless you've actually taken care of a family member with advanced dementia, someone who needs full help in the bathroom, eating, and can no longer communicate, you likely do not have the experience to be in this discussion. There may be a few exceptions, but in general those who haven't done it have no idea what this condition really means. The "humorous" portrayals on Tv of people with early stage light dementia show just how ignorant most people under 35 or so really are, and how willingly people forget what they may have seen of grandparents in early childhood. However bad you think it it, it is much, much worse. And when people are unable to work by their 50s and in full blown dementia by their 60s, it is even more tragic, heartbreaking, costly and shattering to a family.

    February 2, 2014 at 9:04 am |
    • Charm Quark

      There are far more dangerous jobs than playing football. I wonder if the author has the same moral dilemma about using wood because the lumberjack has a very dangerous job or consuming metals because mining is even more dangerous. Seems like a strange story to me. I do not like watching the violence for violence sake sports boxing, wrestling, martial arts and extreme games, so I don't, problem solved.

      February 2, 2014 at 9:28 am |
      • Saraswati

        Except we don't have good alternatives to replace many of these other more dangerous jobs, and we have plenty of other entertainment/sporting alternatives to football. And yes, we do object to overly dangerous jobs that are unnecessary, which is why we heavily regulate asbestos removal and limit how ling someone can do it.

        February 2, 2014 at 9:30 am |
        • Charm Quark

          I wonder if you object to sending over troops to another country to put it in its place for political purposes. Sports even the safer ones are all about a basic human instinct, dominance, hard to be rid of that trait. BTW you certainly have a lot of unnecessary dangerous jobs in sports from car racing to Xtreme Fighting, people love the anticipation of carnage, good luck trying to stop the fans.

          February 2, 2014 at 10:07 am |
        • Saraswati

          I never said I was going to try and stop the fans. Heck, I'm watching the Superbowl myself. But as a sport which engages a large number of people brining about a very significant, socially draining and expensive illness I think in the long term it should be discouraged. There are plenty of less dangerous sports, or sports whose dangers are less catastrophic, ranging from basketball to running to swimming and water polo.

          February 2, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
        • Dandintac

          Sara,

          I'm having trouble perceiving your stance on this issue. Is football immoral or not? You describe eloquently the impact of brain trauma and related diseases, and also point out that the sport is not necessary in a practical sense, but then you confess that you will be watching the Superbowl today. If football is immoral, why would you do this?

          I would point out that a great many sports carry risks of injuries. I've know of people to get hurt in basketball and baseball, and it's more common than you think. My worst, most painful injury ever as a teenager was playing soccer. Just about any form of racing, carries significant risk of injury. What about Karate, Kung Fu, Taekwando and other martial arts? Rugby? Skydiving and SCUBA diving are dangerous also. Yet skydiving was one of the most memorable thrills of my life.

          When they start giving football players weapons, and award extra points for hurting or killing other players, then I'll agree it's immoral.

          I would say we should see if we can improve helmets, and make sure players are well-informed of the risks going in, and make sure they are insured for head injuries–basic common-sense steps to mitigate risks. But I'm not prepared to call football or other contact sports "immoral".

          Thanks

          February 2, 2014 at 5:34 pm |
  13. Earth

    What if it were like this, what if planet earth was one big thing, like a living being. Compare it to Mars for example where there is no life. So here is our planet all by him/her self in the universe. That would make people like body parts of planet earth. When a tiger eats a deer that would be like phagocytosis. But if a person attacks another person it would be sort of like an auto immune disorder.

    February 2, 2014 at 5:13 am |
  14. Woody

    This is a rather strange article for the Belief Blog. The moral question, I guess, somehow qualifies it. The object of a football game is to get a football across the goal line, not to injure the players. Because of the very nature of the game and the size and speed of the players, however, injuries are inevitable. In a "sport" such as boxing, and it's Frankenstein child, cage fighting, the object is to inflict a concussion, or worse, on your opponent. Some human beings love blood sports, as can be seen by the sellout crowds and the pay per view popularity of cage fighting. The young men involved in boxing and especially cage fighting will likely have far more medical issues down the road, percentage wise, than any football player, yet this carnage is completely legal. One would imagine that if the good old days of the Roman Coliseum where people were tortured to death, eaten alive by wild animals, etc., suddenly returned, they wouldn't be able to print enough tickets to keep up with the demand.

    February 2, 2014 at 4:32 am |
    • Earth

      The real question is why do people like blood sports. I think it is a throwback to hunter gatherer times, when hunters would have to kill for food, or to protect the tribe. However we don't need that part of ourselves anymore. We are evolving past that point.

      February 2, 2014 at 5:28 am |
      • sam stone

        Because we are tribal, and it gives us a thrill to pretend that we are in battle. How many fans use the term "we" when discussing "their" team?

        February 2, 2014 at 8:36 am |
      • saggyroy

        I think soccer originated to settle disputes between villages. They would kick around a goats head instead of a ball.

        February 2, 2014 at 9:03 am |
      • Saraswati

        We may be evolving past a need, but only insofar as we are selectively breeding out warring instincts would we be biologically evolving. Whether females are choosing to mate more readily with more pacifist males I think is questionable except insofar as some of the most violent males may be imprisoned. But athletes are still fairly popular mates.

        February 2, 2014 at 9:08 am |
  15. Dandintac

    I think we are on the wrong track if we are going to equate every single risk of injury as a gross immorality. Sure–it is indeed moral to try to minimize injury risk as practicable, but I think we are taking it too far in some instances.

    I was born in 1963, so I grew up as a kid in the late 60s and 70s. In the early 70s when we had our recesses and our lunch breaks, we'd be cut loose in the playground out back until they blew the whistle and we had to go back in to class–often muddy and bruised.

    We had a particularly brutal form of football we called "Smear the Q ue-er" (this was before "Q ue-er" mean what it does now–or at least that's not how we thought of it. A football would be thrown in the air, and whoever caught it had to run for his life, while everyone tried to tackle him. Then, when he was able to get up, he'd throw the ball up in the air, and the whole process would repeat itself. Brutal–no doubt about it. But we sure had great fun.

    When we weren't killing each other in a game of "Smear the Q ue-er", we were playing tetherball, or "crack the whip" or on the swing-sets or monkey bars (steel bars on the blacktop)–all terribly unsafe by today's standards, but all great fun.

    I don't think there was ever a semester in school when one kid or another didn't have a cast on his leg or arm.

    There was no doubt that we kids got hurt a great deal.

    There were a lot more broken bones then.

    But you know what? There was also far less childhood obesity.

    I know that our world today is a lot different from the world I grew up in. But today, I think we have "safety'd" the zest out of life for our kids. I know of parents who sequester their children like monks, terrified that they'll get hurt in some way, not realizing that they are damaging their kids in other ways that are just as hurtful, if not more so.

    So the upshot of this is–yeah, we should always be on the look-out for common-sense ways to be more safe, but at the same time, sports and other activities that carry some risk of physical injury should not be regarded as immoral. It's not like these are gladiators coerced or even forced to crush and kill each other in the Roman Coliseum. If football players start packing weapons on to the field, maybe my att-itude will change. Most physical games, carry some risk of injury, but they are also exciting, fun, great exercise, and carry other social and health benefits. There are always trade-offs, and ways we can make our society more immoral even as we make it more "safe".

    So go ahead and watch the Superbowl tomorrow!

    GO HAWKS!

    February 2, 2014 at 2:45 am |
    • Earth

      The amount and type of food taken in coupled with exercise in the form of yoga, jogging, gardening and walking can correct the obesity problem without the aggression. Aggression has a place but how often are we able to minimize it?
      Everyone in your games were consenting to be part of an aggressive sport so ultimately it was their choice but what if that time was used instead for environmental clean up. Maybe immoral is the wrong word to describe it but maybe it is a bit primitive?

      February 2, 2014 at 5:25 am |
    • Saraswati

      First, there are many different types of physical risks and they are not all equal. A sport that risks broken ankles is a far cry from a sport that is highly likely to bring on dementia several decades earlier than normal. We aren't talking about weighing obesity against broken bones, but against dementia, a far more serious condition.

      Second, professional football doesn't discourage obesity but rather benefits from overweight players. This was recognized long before dementia was even a concern.

      Third, exercise is not the primary issue in the increase in obesity, but increased calorie intake. Exercise is great, but unless you are lifting weights at a competi.tive level or running marathons the impact is pretty small on weight.

      February 2, 2014 at 9:13 am |
    • Dandintac

      Sara & Earth,

      Thanks for your replies, and you both make good points. I would add though, that it's not just football, just obesity, just exercise. This particular blog may be about football this time–but we could just as easily be having this very same discussion about a great many activities that carry some risk. There's a bigger picture here, and I'm not sure if I'm doing the best job of conveying what I'm trying to get across.

      We do not so easily separate one sport out from another. People tend to lump sports together, and most of them carry significant risks of injury. What about Karate tournaments? Is racing immoral? Sure, we should try to mitigate against injury, but my case is that we often take it a bit too far. Life, activity, fun–it all carries risk. Riding motorcycles is far more dangerous than cars. We could save lots of children from drowning by passing a law so that children are not allowed near swimming pools, lakes, rivers, etc. We could easily ratchet up the safety in our society in lots of ways, but in the end we have a dull, boring, lifeless society of obese people, terrified of taking any sort of risks at all.

      And it's not just about obesity alone–there is a lot of joy and excitement to be found in an active lifestyle. Parents who are afraid of their kid getting a brain injury in football seldom stop there–their kids usually are not be found playing any active sports. Running and swimming are not for everyone–a great diversity is needed of fun activities are needed, and we can't be so timid about it where we start putting the kybosh on one activity after another, that happens to carry some risk.

      I was fortunate to have a very active, fun, exciting and physical childhood. I see many, many children today wherein that is not true–and it is out of terror of injury or harm. We have "safety'd" the zest out of life.

      February 2, 2014 at 5:57 pm |
  16. Dandintac

    L,

    You seem to be angrier and more bitter than all the atheists AND Christians on this blog put together.

    Truth be told, I think all of us, atheists/agnostics and Christians can all do better and be more civil to one another. Internet blogs are rife with incivility, and no one has cornered the market on that score. But also I can tell you quite honestly, that you are not serving yourself or your beliefs well.

    Why not take a look at the man in the mirror? Start there. Why not try to discover the Christian humility you are supposed to exhibit, and set the example for everyone else?

    February 2, 2014 at 2:27 am |
    • Dandintac

      Sorry–somehow this ended up on the wrong blog!

      February 2, 2014 at 2:28 am |
      • Earth

        Still it is well said, even if it is in the wrong blog. Think of it this way, if a person is to show humility they risk being attacked, even if the attack is figurative rather than literal. The fight or flight instinct will kick in if the opponent is real or imagined.

        February 2, 2014 at 5:38 am |
      • Earth

        Let me add to that the internet is a very safe outlet for aggression.

        February 2, 2014 at 5:49 am |
        • Dandintac

          Earth,

          Yes, you're right on one level–the Internet is a safe outlet for aggression on one level–we have the benefit of anonymity, and we are far removed from physical harm.

          However, it's a two-edged sword like so much in life. I see it as the same sort of psychological phenomenon we see in driving. People get aggressive, flip each other off, road rage, assume the worst from other drivers, and seem unable to see how things may look from the other driver's point of view. I think it comes from not dealing with people on a face-to-face level. With work we often have this, but we can at least hear the tone of voice over the phone, and we are also constrained by professional ethics and the threat of discipline at work if we become uncivil. We don't have that with the Internet. And I think it's contributing to a society with less civility and more angst and dissatisfaction.

          My hope is that we learn better how to deal with this, while still retain the amazing freedom of discourse we currently enjoy.

          Thanks

          February 2, 2014 at 6:09 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      Well said and I think Salero21 should pay attention to this also. They both portray immeasurable hate for Atheists/Atheism while forgetting that kids might be reading this....kids who may not have been raised with belief that are exploring/researching.

      February 2, 2014 at 7:28 am |
  17. Vic

    Sadly, very true. That is the exact same reason I don't watch any kind of boxing.

    It is a huge dilemma.

    Well put Patton Dodd.

    February 1, 2014 at 11:33 pm |
    • doobzz

      I was just saying the same thing to Mr. Doobzz the other day. I used to enjoy boxing, and still probably could to an extent, but then I remember what boxing really is – two humans beating each other until one of them can't get up any more for the entertainment of other humans. Just can't do it anymore.

      February 2, 2014 at 4:14 am |
      • sam stone

        this is one of the reasons, after many years of watching american football, i am more a fan of english football now.

        that being said, i will be at a super bowl party this evening

        February 2, 2014 at 8:40 am |
  18. Damocles

    What the hell?? Does this guy agonize over the plight of some mail deliverers because they may go off the deep end? The possible situation of a psychiatrist getting so involved with their patients that they may commit suicide? The woeful life of a self-hating dentist?

    One, I fail to understand why it is a shocking revelation that repeated blows to the head might cause some form of trauma. Really? Really?? No freakin way! Two, it is your chosen profession. Yes, I understand that you shouldn't toss players aside when they no longer matter, but in all honesty, it's what happens to nearly all professionals. Bottom line, if you don't want to run the risk of becoming something that resembles an angry vegetable, don't play the game.

    Why the lamenting and hair-pulling-out fretting over whether or not to watch the game? Do, or don't. You can still root for your team while being concerned about the players. Are you going to volunteer to take one of these wounded players into your home and help them? No? Then shut up and watch the game.

    February 1, 2014 at 9:38 pm |
    • Damocles

      Thanks. This story is just flat out weird to me.

      February 1, 2014 at 11:05 pm |
    • Earth

      I think the author is advocating boycotting these sports perhaps so that in time they will go away. Football is not something I would consider to be among life's great challenges and problems.
      Personally I get nothing from watching the game but it is always a surprise watching the fans.

      February 2, 2014 at 5:45 am |
      • sam stone

        if the NFL teams were forced to go to a minor league system like baseball, the NFL would soon disappear

        February 2, 2014 at 8:41 am |
    • Saraswati

      Your argument about one's "chosen profession" would have more weight if we were only talking about adults who start football after age 18. Rather we are talking about people who start in childhood with head injuries that not only "count" but are more significant at young ages. Then we are talking about people who for all practical purposes major in football at college and don't have another realistic career option.

      February 2, 2014 at 9:16 am |
      • sam stone

        if college football goes bye bye, so does the NFL

        February 2, 2014 at 9:39 am |
        • Saraswati

          If you look at the counties that have strong academic success, like Finland and Korea, they rarely tie competi.tivee sports to academia at any level. It's going to be a hard case to make, but our obsession with linking these is a false ideology that is getting us thrashed in world competi.tiveness.

          February 2, 2014 at 9:52 am |
      • aldewacs2

        Since this is the belief blog after all... OK I'll make the link:
        A large majority of Americans has been brainwashed since childhood to believe in god(s).
        A large majority of Americans has been brainwashed since childhood to believe that sports is all that matters.
        Ergo:
        A large majority of Americans needs to push the reset button and start to think critically.

        February 2, 2014 at 10:30 am |
      • Damocles

        By that argument, let's just dissuade kids from participating in anything. Kid showing signs of wanting to be a firefighter? Squash those dreams. Soldier? Absolutely not.

        Yes, by all means, make the game as safe as possible, but you can only do so much before the coin-flip is the entire game. Heads you win, tails you lose. Yay! Thanks for coming out, everybody.

        February 2, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
  19. tallulah13

    NFL players are well compensated for their efforts, and are aware that being hit by other people hurts. They choose to play the game and would probably not welcome this author's concern if it cost them money.

    February 1, 2014 at 9:11 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.