Last weekend while in a hotel I caught a segment on HBO’s Real Sports about the ’85 Chicago Bears. The segment was about how football injuries prematurely turned a group of strong and charismatic men into shells of their former selves. Even coach Mike Ditka said he would no longer tell kids to play football knowing what he knows now. (Which is strange given that Ditka still humps it for the NFL doing game analysis.)
I grew up playing football and have always been a football fan. I also am aware that no matter what you do in life, it takes some kind of physical or mental toll. Life eventually makes monkeys of us all. If I know nothing else, I know that. However, I think this segment, better than anything else I have seen, demonstrates the moral uneasiness surrounding modern football. Is it possibly more like a match held in the Roman Colosseum than we previously wanted to believe?
As the Super Bowl approaches, I can’t help but wonder about this. I have always know that football is absurd, and in fact that is partly what I love about it, especially at the professional level. As George Carlin once observed, “There is nothing better than watching 300 lb millionaires kick the shit out of each other.” I think if nothing else though, having at least a conversation about the consequences of the game is probably a good idea.