I grew up with football. Every fall weekend going back as far as I can remember, we watched Michigan State Spartans and Detroit Lions football. I played from the age of 8 years old until I was 17. Football was always a big part of my late summer/early fall life. But, beginning this year, I am boycotting football.
Time Is Too Valuable
In recent years, it’s been bad. If there were any games, I’d have them on. If no one was playing, I’d pour over stats to craft the perfect fantasy football lineups. I had multiple teams in season-long and daily fantasy football. It was a time investment, and my family knew they would be without me for the season.
Yet, after the Super Bowl, I’d have a week or two of withdrawal, shame, disgust, and self-loathing. Lots of tearful cold showers that left teeth marks in my Irish Spring.
Anyway, there is too much I want to do with my time to continue to waste so much of it watching guys bash their heads in. I want to help you good people with my reviews. And, I want to spend time with my wife and boys and other family and friends and maybe some strangers if they happen to be there.
Why Support Brain Damage?
When your last name is Brains and you operate a site called Brains Report, you tend to frown upon the destruction of brains. But, American football destroys brains. Check out this study published in the New York Times. Basically, if one plays football for any significant amount of time, they can count on brain damage. And, by watching the sport, I am complicit in the brain damage.
You might argue that the players make a conscious decision to play the sport and that they are generously compensated for having fun playing a game. That is a good argument. Good job.
But, let’s take a look at this. Most pro players started playing before puberty. The prefrontal cortex is not fully developed until you’re about 25. This means you have trouble with impulse control and do not have the best reasoning before that age. Add in the constant smacks to the head that this 25-year-old has already had for most of his life, and his judgment is likely permanently impaired.
Though these athletes sometimes engage in illegal activities that are inexcusable, their brain damage doesn’t help. And, as I promote the sport of football by watching it and encouraging others to play, I am complicit in their troubling, brain-damage-induced activites. No, thank you.
People of All Ages Experience Brain Damage from Football
Pro football players are not the only ones affected. Youth, who are generally pressured into playing the sport by friends and family without any information about the long-term brain damage, also experience concussions and the progressive degenerative disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Erin and I don’t let our sons play because we kind of like brain power.
The vast majority of football players don’t make a dime for playing the game. Yet, they experience the brain damage from a sport that they were pressured into playing. Or, they started willingly without full information of what effects it would have on them at an age when they were not responsible enough to make decisions with such long-term implications. I do not support child abuse, so I cannot support glorifying a sport that teaches kids to mess up their brains. Let’s have them play roller derby instead!
Much like I have mad respect for vegetarians because they are able to do something I am unwilling to do to help the world, I understand that not everyone will give up football when given the facts. I know not everyone can give up a game you’ve spent your life watching and that has so many deep-seated memories. But, I hope you will consider it. Do it for the brains!