I don't know how much longer I can keep this up.
A lab that's been specializing in testing for chronic traumatic encephalopathy found it in 87 out of 91 former NFL players's brains, when tested posthumously. Now, this is a somewhat skewed sample, since people who feared they had it were more likely to donate their brains, but there's "somewhat skewed" and then there's "well, if we assume they're finding it 3 times as often, that means 1 out of every 4 NFL players is going to end up with a severe brain injury..."
And, to top it all off, the research pointed not to concussions as the culprit, but the every-play-banging-heads-in-the-trenches.
(That it showed 134 out of 161 people who'd played at high school*or above had it was also not encouraging)
How much longer can I continue to support this sport? It is honestly becoming an ethical issue here, and not an easy one. After all, I grew up on tales of the Formula 1 of the 50s and 60s, when the odds were very high (I'd have to calculate them, but they were in the 1/4-1/6 range, IIRC) that a driver would die in a crash. But I also grew up with Jackie Stewart as one of my heroes, *because* of his massive efforts in favor of driver safety -- and with another of my heroes (Niki Lauda) as an example of what safety could do, and what it still needed to do.
So it's not like I haven't followed dangerous sports in the past. (Admittedly, I was 8-10, which is not exactly the age of clarity in moral reasoning) But this feels different -- because here, it's not "We'll take 1 in 4 of you"; it seems more like "We'll take all of you, it's just a question of how much."
Can football be saved? I don't know. Perhaps it needs to become something more like rugby or Aussie-rules football, but I'm not sure pride or self-interest is willing to let it get there.
Can I keep watching it? I don't know. When I play a silly little cartoon-football game on my phone, and wince when players seem dizzy after a hit -- virtual players, mind you -- I suspect the answer is "Not for much longer."
Then again, I am always reminded of a story about the great Tazio Nuvolari. When asked by a reporter if he expected to die behind the wheel of a racecar, he said yes. When asked how he got the courage to get behind the wheel, then, he asked the reporter if he expected to die in bed. When the reporter said "Yes..." Nuvolari asked how the reporter got the courage to lie down every night.
The sacrifices one is willing to make for one's goals -- be they political, athletic, artistic, what-have-you -- have always been a subject of great interest -- moral, aesthetic, etc. -- to me.
Now I have to ask what sacrifices am I willing to participate in other people making, even to the extent of watching on the TV, or playing out little versions in electronic form on my laptop.
I don't know.
* Personal note: I played one-quarter season of high-school football, and have always been a poor header of the ball. I suspect my risk is low.