The biggest paradox in dealing with the rising knowledge of football related traumatic brain injury is handling how to move the sport forward in a safe way. The reason football is so loved is it’s rough, heavy-hitting nature.
The high stakes, and unbelievable collisions and tackles make up a huge part of the reason fans keep filling the seats. No one wants to watch a version of the sport played without these aspects, or flag football would be the nation’s pasttime.
But, as sportswriter Patrick Hruby points on HuffPost Live, this makes us all responsible for the continuous and frightening number of serious brain injuries these players accumulate throughout a career.
“The fans have responsibility in the same way that any of us as consumers have responsibility for a practice hazardous to people’s health,” Hruby said. “If there was no market demand for football, people wouldn’t be giving each other brain damage in order to provide football,”
He touches on the dehumanizing aspect of the sport; we all forget sometimes that these athletes are real people, and they will likely face serious issues for the injuries they take in games. It might not be immediately apparent, and it is very easy to forget when the person pulled from a game for an injury is back on the field a week later, but very likely the injury won’t just disappear.
If we as fans don’t take responsibility for the real human lives destroyed by the sport, the injuries will continue, and our “national heros” will continue to be treated like discardable gladiators.