It is said that football is now the American national pastime. Be that as it may, what does that say about us as Americans, especially in light of yesterday's federal court ruling which gave preliminary approval to compensation for former football players who now live with serious injuries and debilitating conditions?
There are somewhere in the area of 4,500, four thousand five hundred, an outstanding number when you consider how relatively few men have played professional football, former NFL football players suing the National Football League for failure to address the physical and psychological damage the game has done to them. Many former football players have publicly stated that they will not encourage their sons to play football. Why? Because it is too brutal.
Too brutal. Yet we as a nation encourage this activity.
What does this say about us as that nation? It is not something we care to dwell upon. Should we dwell upon it, it might cause us to ask questions which we do not want to answer, let alone ask. Such questions which may cause us to ponder whether we ought to feel as we feel on autumn Saturday and Sunday afternoons in the fall in the good old U. S. of A.
We don't ask, because it will harsh our buzz. We just want to be entertained. If that means watching grown men possibly scarring themselves for life, even when freely choosing to do so, it's okay. We need that, it seems.
Do we also need former players so messed up that they will not watch the game, a la Mike Webster? He's the center from the famous Steel Curtain teams of the 1970s who lived a post football life of trauma and instability. Do we care about that? After all, he chose to go down that road. Is that our problem?
Yes, quite frankly, it is. When we as a society encourage young men to behave that way, it is our problem. Their lives are on us. Lives like these: http://www.gq.com/sports/profiles/200909/nfl-players-brain-dementia-stud...
We can regret them, of course. Yet we can do more. We can question whether we ought continue to support a mentality which says this okay. We can question whether our values need to be prioritized better. We can do that.
But we won't. We're Americans, after all. We don't need to question our motives. We're the best.
What is left, then, is the penultimate question: who will explain that to Mike Webster?