Football: Great Game. Bad Karma.

Posted on January 11, 2013. Filed under: Public Relations, Society, Sporting life | Tags: , , , , , |

English: New England Patriots linebacker Junio...

English: New England Patriots linebacker Junior Seau during a game against the Oakland Raiders. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s a heck of a way to start the new year off if you’re a sports fan in America.

Football is for the foolhardy.

That’s the message – how else can you read it? – from the findings on Junior Seau’s death.

You can argue that football has always been a sport that requires a certain amount of foolhardiness from its participants.

You can argue that, but you won’t get far now that it’s clear that it’s the sheer everyday violence of the sport that does in people like Mr. Seau – and many others, Jim McMahon apparently among them as well.

It’s hard to imagine football being played any other way than it is now.

Maybe there’s a way out.

What Price Success?

It’s a great game, fun to play at any level – and great to watch.

The gladiators who perform on Sundays are extremely well paid. But money can’t buy your way back from brain injury.

Years ago, punch drunk fighters were a staple of the American scene. Read Nelson Algren’s stories about life in the mean Chicago streets to see what happened to those guys. Grim.\

Auto Racing Lost Too Many Too.

Car racing had to change after so many drivers got killed. Today, it’s rare to see a driver even get seriously hurt, much less destroyed in a NASCAR or Indy Car race.

As a kid, I idolized the guys who put their lives on the starting line – guys like Fireball Roberts, Mark Donohue, Jim Clark — all killed in action.

You grow up, you realize that those guys died while on the job. They weren’t fighting for the flag. Just working. You and me, we wouldn’t go to work if it meant we faced a really good chance of getting killed – or brain injured. Not if we had other choices. That’s kind of what it’s come down to for the football world. Other sports as well of course — hockey and soccer, to name a couple.

Auto racing had to change, especially in the wake of the death of its big star, Dale Earnhardt, in 2001 at Daytona. Football will just have to change some more, and what that future game will look like is anybody’s guess.

It’s not a PR problem for football. It’s a structural problem. How do you make the game safer, and still keep the excitement? Do we really care? I think so. I think the specter of men like Junior Seau casts a dark, permanent shadow over the game.

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