Sports Injuries: Should We Watch?

March 4th, 2010 by Kathy McManus

Of the list of things to feel guilty about, should watching pro football now be included?

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

Of the list of things to feel guilty about, should watching pro football now be included? 

Football players, often viewed as superb athletic specimens, are increasingly being viewed as medical specimens, because of significant long-term health effects from repeat head injuries.

The New York Times reports that multiple game-inflicted concussions have been linked to problems with concentration, memory loss, and depression, as well as rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease that far exceed those of non-players. 

“So how can we go on watching?” asked Hugo Lindgren, in a New York magazine piece titled “Sunday Guilt.” 

“Unlike baseball or basketball, injuries aren’t incidental to football — they’re a natural outcome of a game in which giant men collide with all their might,” Lindgren wrote. “But it also represents a paradox. The reason we love the sport, after all, is its speed and violence.” 

The “ever-present threat of severe bodily harm is part of why we’re sitting there watching in the first place,” says Lindgren, touching on fan complicity with the “real people crippling themselves for our entertainment.” 

Tell us what you think: Do spectators share any responsibility for injuries like concussions? Would you still watch if the sport were less violent?