Every time I see a story like the one above I pause and ask myself if I’m doing the right thing by continuing to watch football. The trouble is I love the sport. I loved playing it. I love arguing about today. I love the atmosphere inside the stadium, particularly at the Shoe. The tailgates for a football game are unlike any other sport. Hell my mom even cried when I played for the last time.
But stories like the one involving Deantre seem to be happening more often now. Maybe it is partially due to the ease with which information can be shared these days, but it feels like it happens more often now than it did ten years ago. I don’t judge people that love the game and defend it. And I understand those who say the players now know what they are signing up for when they decide to play. But I’m not sure if that makes it right. When someone smokes heroin they almost definitely know the risk involved, yet we’ve outlawed heroin as a way to prevent its use and in turn protect our population.
As these tragic stories continue to pile up I think the outcry will eventually grow larger to the point that it can’t be ignored so that there is at least a national conversation as to whether or not we should allow kids and adults to play football. I tend to agree with Malcolm Gladwell that at some point during my lifetime football will be finished. Either by law or as a result of a diminishing player pool as more and more parents don’t allow the kids to play. My friends that debate me on the issue point to the fact that the NFL is the most popular sport in America, which is certainly true. And the value of those franchises has continued to grow at an exceptional rate, but if we’ve learned anything in the past decade it’s that no industry (housing) or business (Lehman) is bulletproof. Everything is cyclical and at some point the NFL like the housing market will see a decline. It’s inevitable.
Until that day I’m sure I’ll continue to watch the sport and cheer for my Buckeyes, Eagles, and fantasy squad. As each story like Deantre’s is told though I’ll continue to pause for a minute and ask myself if I’m doing the right thing. The truth is I don’t know, and I’m not sure anyone knows yet either.