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As many of you might know, I’m a huge sports fan – always have been for as long as I can remember. In fact, one of my earliest memories in life is watching a hockey game between the Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks at a family friend’s home when I was just 3 years old. It’s always been an intrinsic part of who I am.
Growing up, I watched Hockey Night in Canada religiously every Saturday night. Without a doubt, hockey and soccer are my favourites, but I also love watching tennis, baseball and the Olympics.
Over the years, I’ve also followed football but not as much as the other sports. I’ve always admired football players…amazing athletes, strong yet fast…even the biggest guys. Of all sports, I find football culture puts the most emphasis on the importance of “team”…I admire that.
Taking all that into account though, I’ve made a quasi-important decision…I’ll no longer ever watch or follow football! I’ve been pondering this for a while but I was finally pushed to the breaking point after I read a New York Times article this past week about a well-known US College Football TV personality who has resigned and disassociated himself from the game. This was a big story in the sports world as Ed Cunningham is quite well-known and College Football has a lot of viewers and is a big business.
The simple fact of it is that playing football causes brain damage. Whether it’s a child playing in high school or professionals in the NFL or CFL, the impact from hits with helmets and other hard padding at high speeds causes massive head injuries and concussions to anyone who plays the game.
And it’s not only Mr. Cunningham’s story that made me aware of this. There have been so many other reports and studies which have provided the same conclusion. I first became intimately aware of this epidemic after watching a documentary on PBS’s Frontline. I invite you to watch it and attempt to explain to me afterwards how a game such as this should be allowed to continue!
Many will argue that athletes in other sports can also suffer head injuries…especially in my beloved hockey. That’s true but the main difference with football is that the majority of the players on the field are given the specific task of hitting their opponent as hard as possible. One cannot say that this is hockey’s main objective. Same with boxing, MMA…these are all blood sports and need to be banned.
But unfortunately, I’m pessimistic that this will happen. Why?…money! The NFL is the richest sports league in the world. Meanwhile, their players are some of the poorest paid compared to other professional sports league and they have the shortest careers.
And what about the kids? College Football in the US is one of the biggest revenue generators for schools. Meanwhile, the football players sacrifice their bodies and don’t even get paid.
Junior and High School players are suffering terrible injuries to skulls that have not yet even been fully developed. And those sports programs are funded by your tax dollars.
The insanity of it all is simply mind boggling!
So I can’t with good conscious continue to use my leisure time as a means to be entertained by the carnage that is the game of football. It’s just not right…it has to stop.