Archive for ‘NFL’

May 8, 2011

I wish I could quit you

via Google Images

I want to stop watching professional football. I feel that this is something a principled man would do. I think I am a principled man ergo I want to give up on professional football entirely. This is no mean feat and I am not sure that I can pull it off. What with fantasy football every week and all the highlights of big men making big plays. Or the amazing hype surrounding super bowl Sunday, I am just not sure I have it in me. Especially when I keep coming back to the fact that I am just one man and my attempt at a statement will not make a dent in the National Football League’s pocketbook. However, I don’t see how any man with a good conscience can know what I now know about the dangers of football and continue to watch it without guilt.

According to a 2009 article by Malcolm Gladwell, most football players are at risk of ending up with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), “a progressive neurological disorder found in people who have suffered some kind of brain trauma. This disorder shows some of the same symptoms as Alzheimer’s: beginning with personality and behavioral changes, “followed by disinhibition and irritability, before moving on to dementia”. What’s worse is that CTE manifests later because it takes some time for the original head trauma to become nerve-cell breakdown and death. Gladwell goes on to talk about two researchers, Ann McKee and Bennet Omalu who have studied ex-athletes’ brains and have found evidence of CTE backing up his assertions with research. Basically, most football players during the length of their careers bash their heads with other players repeatedly. This can result in concussions but since the sport has a tough guy code, getting your “bell rung” is often not a reason for extended time off the field. So these players continue to play risking continued damage to their brains. They may not pay for this in the interim but ultimately this will catch up to them.

Gladwell tells the story of Kyle Turley (one of my favorite players when he played), Andre Waters, Terry Long and a few others. Long killed himself by drinking antifreeze while Waters pleaded for help before shooting himself in the head. Turley is still alive but suffers from multiple episodes. The NFL is starting to take the issue of concussions seriously and insists that players be cleared before returning the field post-concussion but is this enough? It is hard to say and no one seems to have any answers yet on how to combat this problem. Better helmets are not the answer because the better the equipment, the more the players employ them as some sort of weapon.

Which brings me back to my dilemma. My background in Psychology tells me that these players are causing great damage to their futures since it is difficult for the brain to heal. Continuing to watch this spectacle makes me an accomplice of sorts. How can I hold the NFL accountable when the players are pandering to fans like myself by doing what they know we enjoy so much? I desperately want to stop watching professional football but I do not know if I can pull it off. For more on this subject, go here

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February 20, 2008

Turn off your TV, turn on your mind…

Schopenhauer on thinking for Oneself: “The safest way of having no thoughts of one’s own is to turn on the TV set every moment one has nothing else to do. It is this practice which explains why watching TV makes most people more stupid and silly than they are by nature.”

“What good fortune for those in power that people do not think.” -Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf.

“It is easy to overlook a deceptively simple fact: one is always watching television when one is watching television rather than having any other experience. Whether the program being watched is Sesame Street or Spiderman, Nova or Fantasy Island, there is a similarity of experience about all television watching.”

Are you sitting down? Good because I am about to dive into a controversial topic. Bernard McGrane, a renowned Sociologist once pointed out that TV is designed to dominate your life. Think about it. You see it best in a dark room by its own light. It has its own sounds and images. It is dominant by nature. Turn it off and you might even forget it is there. Turn it on and you have to stare at it. It is getting bigger and bigger, the images are getting clearer and clearer and now, it even includes surround sound. The new tvs demand that you put them up on a pedestal above every other thing. Can you think of any other electrical appliance that demands such majesty, such visibility? No. You can’t.

And it is through tv that we have lost our sense of reality. I’ll give you an example. Think of the Katrina tragedy in New Orleans. Remember the countless hours of coverage that it got? Have the problems all been fixed? Not at all. Then how come it isn’t getting much talk around the water cooler? How come more people aren’t demanding answers, or volunteering or even thinking about it? Because the cameras are gone. TV and the media have moved on to other things like Britney Spears and Roger Clemens and steroids. We were told something as ridiculous as the New Orleans Saints were playing for the victims of Katrina. That sports were a way to heal the wounds left over from the disaster and that was bull. Throwing a ball doesn’t fix things or make them better. It only causes people to ignore just how bad things are. Sure sports might bring people together. But the tragedy which most people miss is that we even need sports to bring us together. What has New Orleans gained from the Saints making the playoffs that year? Moments of joy and happiness, yes but it didn’t feed anyone or clothe anyone or rebuild their torn down homes or give them back what they lost. The fact that these people even gain joy from that is a big example of how skewed our reality has gotten.

The allure of TV and indeed the media on the whole is that we believe that it is a good thing for the city that the Saints were playing well. Look closely though and you’ll realize that it was all a marketing ruse. The Saints got more publicity, sold more tickets, television ratings went up and they sold more jerseys. In the end what has the city gotten? Ten to twenty minute segments at halftime of games while the games go on. Imagine that all the people who watched the superbowl (including me) saved the money they used to buy tickets, even buy big screen Tvs, alcohol and other refreshments and sent them to New Orleans. Wouldn’t the problem be taken care of?

There are countless other examples but I will leave you with that one as the point has been made. We need to spend more time thinking about others and setting examples and learning and loving other people instead of being glued to the tube. Gotta go. I have to go watch the Lakers play the Suns.