The Ethics of Football

The Ethics of Football

Aug 29

As the undeniable link between football and brain injury grows, many people are asking the same question: am I contributing to the problem by actively participating in the continuation of this sport through my support? According to one mother, interviewed in an article written for The Des Moines Register, her doctor likened playing football to doing cocaine as “the brain damage he saw in football players’ brains mirrored that of cocaine addicts.” She and many parents have chosen not to let their children play the sport when their doctors shared the same experiences. So, this begs the question, is it morally corrupt to not let your own family members participate in the sport while still actively watching those that already do play?

In the same article, a study was cited wherein over 100 ex-NFL players’ brains were studied, and nearly every one (110 out of 111, was the final count) suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is described as a degenerative brain disease that’s caused by repetitive brain trauma. Since this kind of injury is so indicative of football—you just can’t have the sport without the contact—and not other types of games, there’s a question about supporting a game where regardless of intent, players may be actively getting themselves killed. There are many programs in place that are meant to offset those with obvious brain degeneration in sports, but they have been sued in the past for failing to protect people with brain injuries who play football. Then, there is the final question of choice. If a player is actively putting themself on the field, why in the world would supporting the sport be unethical? Unfortunately, there is a lot that is contrary to that notion. For one, many of these studies noting the detriment of football on the player are relatively new. People who had gone into the sports years ago and are just now hearing about these issues, may not want to leave or cannot. If these programs in place to help injured players keep on getting sued with the help of Des Moines personal injury attorneys, then isn’t something wrong?

I’m of the opinion that watching these sports is directly contributing to the problem via the funds that come in through support. If something is this lucrative, then why would anyone stop doing it. The author of the article agrees, but something is nagging: what can one viewer do against the millions that consume the sport? It’s true. Widespread access to these studies often fails to draw any sort of support in favor of abandoning the sport to try to save people. So what is there to do?

When it comes to consuming football, is it really ethical to be doing so? I’ve discussed many different sides to this story, including the personal morals behind the decision, whether or not players’ choice plays a role and the presence of programs that (fail) to help these players. Unfortunately, it seems there is no clear answer to this problem.