Football: Is It Worth The Risk?

Over 115,000 fans pack Michigan Stadium for a football game

Over 115,000 fans pack Michigan Stadium for a football game

Football is one of the most popular sports in the United States at all levels. NFL and NCAA teams pack massive stadiums week in and week out, while teenagers play for their school teams and in recreational leagues. In the 1950s and 1960s football quickly became a national phenomena and is arguable the most popular sport in the country today. NFL regular and post-season games consistently have the highest TV ratings of any sport.

However, over the past couple of years football has started to run into a major problem, which is the safety of its players. Concussions have recently become a major issue in many sports, but none more so then in football. It is estimated that there is about a 75% risk of concussions for males who play football, which is higher then any other major sport. It is also estimated that professional football players sustain 900-1500 blows to the head during a season. With these numbers it is not hard to see the safety concerns that have arisen. Sustaining multiple concussions can also create long term health issues for players. Some former NFL players have sued the NFL for medical compensation for these injuries and there long term effects. The players claim the league did not do enough to protect them. Although the league is now much more carful about handling concussions then in the past, and has implemented rules to reduce concussions, football is still the sport that puts an athlete most at risk for concussions. The concern about concussions has been shown at all levels of the game including youth football, where some people speculate football will become less popular because of the risk of concussions.

This type of hit is not uncommon in the NFL and can lead to a concussion

This type of hit is not uncommon in the NFL and can lead to a concussion

After reading stats about concussions and reading stories about how dangerous football is to a player’s health, I began to question why the sport is so popular and why so many kids and people play it and watch it. Bartlett Giamatti gives us a reason why people play sports in Take Time For Paradise. Giamatti says that people play sports because we are attempting to achieve the condition of paradise that we have lost. He describes this state of paradise as a form of ourselves that we dream of that is better than our actual self. Giamatti explains that we play sports to try and achieve this condition of paradise, which we lost long ago in the past. He says that sport can be used as a tool of transformation to reform the self into a more perfect self.

So if we use sports to achieve paradise then that still does not completely answer the question of why football is so wildly popular because there are many other sports that can also be used as a tool to attempt to achieve the condition of paradise. After thinking about this in the context of Giamatti’s ideas I believe it might be because football is better at getting people and athletes closer to achieving the condition of paradise that Giamatti talks about. Playing football and the moments and process that an athlete goes through while playing, might get the player closer to achieving the state of paradise than other sports, thus explaining why athletes risk more of their health to play football.

Many people theorize that football will soon dissipate in the coming years because of the major health issues related to it. However, I would disagree with this because if football is in fact the best medium to achieve Giamatti’s paradise and self reformation, then it would make sense that people would continue to play even if the risks are higher then other sports.

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6 thoughts on “Football: Is It Worth The Risk?

  1. I enjoyed reading this article and agree that concussion are a huge issue in college and professional sports today. Many formers players do not see the signs of brain injury until much later in life. I also liked the question you posed about why football is so wildly popular. I would say that the main reason football is such a popular sport is because it is cheap. Anyone can pick up a ball and begin playing a game of two hand touch football. You just need open space. With so many people playing football at such a young age, it is inevitably that it catches on as America’s sport.

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    • I definitely agree with you in terms of the question, is it worth the risk. I know it’s a sport that involves a lot of passion, but I think we need to ask ourselves if we have really put that much passion into a SPORT to risk our lives playing it. We all know that the guys who play it will never give it up, but I think they sometimes forget how dangerous it really is until someone gets seriously hurt. I don’t see the sport going anywhere anytime soon. I just think they will try to come up with ways to make it less dangerous.

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  2. I agree that sports may be worth the risk of getting injured, but I don’t necessarily agree with the fact that football is the best sport to do it with. Yeah, some people live for football, but risking your life in order to achieve the idea of “paradise” seems a little extensive for me. If you’re on your fourth or fifth concussion, the next blow could be fatal. Is that really worth the hour or two of happiness you get every once in a while?

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  3. I found your post and the connection between concussions, football, and the achievement of paradise interesting. I agree that football has a very large inherent risk associated with it but I think most athletes do not consider this while they are competing at the highest levels. As many professional football players have said, the drive for success, and ultimately paradise, is far greater than the risk associated with concussions and life-changing injuries. I think football has become so popular due to the strong association with one’s team and their success but I do think the amount of injuries is alarming and must be addressed, hopefully without impacting the on-field product too much.

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  4. First of all, I really enjoyed reading your post. You definitely brought up some points that are not often mentioned, simply because football is such a high-profile sport, and anything that could potentially end it is looked over. I personally do not see football ever “dissipating”..but I do see officials cracking down on health and safety. you are correct when you say that the focus is not there right now, and it should be. The health and safety of football players is very important, and steps need to be taken to secure that.

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  5. I really enjoyed reading your blog. I really like your connection between playing football with all the risks and achieving paradise. I think that you are right that football has many risks, except many athletes are not thinking about these while playing at such a competitive level. I think that football is so popular because not only are the players reaching paradise, the fans are as well. The crowd is out of their own world and into the one thing happening on the field. Although there are many injuries associated with football, I think that the players are more focussed on the intensity and reaching this paradise than anything else.

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