Thursday, November 07, 2013

Football Guilt

I grew up a football fan. I am still a football fan. I have invested a lot of ridiculous emotion in rooting for the Oklahoma Sooners and the Kansas City Chiefs. I have been thrilled by the Chief's 9-0 start to this season. But the past year or so I have been conflicted by football. For years the big money and the corruption in athletics have disgusted me. But I always kind of swept those feelings under the rug as I continued to spend a lot of time and money watching and attending football games. Just last week I attended with great enthusiasm the SMU Homecoming game. I have been rooting for SMU since I began attending graduate school there a couple of years ago. However, if there's one school that represents corruption in college athletics it's SMU due to the excesses of the early 1980's. SMU still can't avoid being linked to events that happened thirty years ago.

But what is more troubling about football is the concussion issue. The constant trauma to the brain in the game has resulted in great tragedy for thousands of former football players. Player after player has come forth with stories about suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Just yesterday it was Tony Dorsett. Last week it was Brett Favre. Sure these guys made millions off the game, but what is the brain worth? And what about elementary kids, high school players and college kids?

I'm having trouble reconciling my enjoyment of the game with the knowledge of the toll football is having on the lives of young men. I am a hypocrite. I will be keeping tabs on tonight's Sooner game against Baylor. I will be watching November 17th when the Chiefs play the Broncos in primetime. But I am conflicted.

Here is an article by ESPN columnist Rick Reilly that summarizes my views exactly. I don't always agree with Reilly but I'm with him on this one: