The Reluctant Football Fan
I enjoy watching football. I’m a Patriots fan. I look forward to Sundays, when the games are on. We turn the TV on at 2pm for the first game and keep it on all afternoon as we play with the kids or cook dinner. I find it weirdly soothing. Which is why it’s also weird that I feel just a little guilty for watching.
An excellent article in Esquire this month on injuries in the NFL caught my attention today. The gist of the story is that most NFL players play with pain every day. That they often have trouble getting up on Monday morning. That they have to make the sick distinction between “hurt” and “injured”. That the only thing the head coach wants to know is “can he go?” because if not, the next best guy goes in. One player ran off the field with two broken ribs, unable to breathe at all, because if you get off the field fast enough the other guy can go on and your team doesn’t have to take a time out. Guys are afraid if they say they “can’t go”, that the guy who can will be the guy the coach goes to the next game. The players say they are a brotherhood as well as a team. You take one for the team and you don’t complain. You don’t want to look like a whiner. You hear “what a hero, he was injured but he stayed in the game!”. Some people compare their camaraderie to that which is found in the military.
As a female doctor, I am no stranger to testosterone poisoning. Macho comes in many forms. But people, FOOTBALL IS A GAME. A bunch of really big guys try to run the ball one way and another bunch of really big guys try to take it away or knock you down so you can’t have it. 2-year-olds play that game. Everybody looks like heroes and everybody makes a lot of money, but folks, people are getting hurt. Really hurt. Ruined knees and shoulders hurt. Bones sticking out of legs hurt. Concussion-related dementia hurt. WHY??? Because that’s the game. And we love the game, even me.
As an aside, I would like to point out that the military is NOT a game. No one is getting paid millions of dollars a year and the goal of the really big guys on the other side is to kill you, not just knock you down. Again, I would ask WHY? but this is not a political blog.
Soldiers are heroes. Teachers are heroes. Social Workers, Pastors, Firemen are heroes. Football players are rich guys who never had to grow up who get paid a lot of money to get beat up or beat up on others while getting a small ball from one point to another. I will still watch football. It’s an interesting game with a lot of strategy and intricacies. I will still root for the Patriots. But I know what I’m watching. I’m watching people get hurt.