Ethan Sturm | Rules of the Game
Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 07:09
It’s time to kill football. To take it out back, to bury it six feet under.
It’s time to kill football because the integrity of the sport is gone. Because the owners can sit idly by as replacement referees ruin primetime games and create unsafe conditions in the world’s most dangerous sport, again and again. Because the owners nearly ruined one season trying to screw over the players, and followed it up by screwing over the referees the next year. Because a tiny percentage of the bottom line is taking priority over a massive percentage of the results. Because a Saints fan can now referee a Saints game.
It’s time to kill football because the college game isn’t any better. Because big schools pay small schools millions of dollars to serve as their human punching bags. Because coaches vote on whether their own teams get to play in the championship. Because a small cabal of big−time programs holds a monopoly on the postseason that is unjust enough to elicit anti−trust investigations from the government. Because chasing a few extra bucks has overridden tradition, rivalries and geographic sensibilities.
It’s time to kill football because it, above all other sports, glorifies criminals. Because a dog killer that spent nearly two years in jail can become a statewide hero and fantasy savior overnight, with little to no repercussions. Because a man likely involved in a double murder can be named Super Bowl MVP the next year and become the role model of a city for over a decade after. Because a man known to be one of the toughest, grittiest players in the league by day has a laundry list of sexual assault charges by night.
It’s time to kill football because it overrides basic human sensibilities. Because it can turn one of the nation’s top universities into a cult. Because it can make people cover up a crime as heinous as sexual assault, and make thousands of others defend those actions. Because it can make a man poison ancient trees for no reason other than his rivals’ love for them.
But above all, it’s time to kill football because football is killing people. Because football players are 19 times more likely to be diagnosed with a memory−related disease than the national population. Because more than 20 percent of those that have been concussed suffer from depression, leading to horrible tragedies like the suicide of Junior Seau. Because while the rest of the sports world cracks down on steroids, football players continue to pump the vile juice into their veins.
And because the NFL continues to brush these issues under the rug of labor disputes and poor refereeing, putting them off to another day, when it could be too late for dozens of men.
You might think its death is impossible because the NFL is too much of a cash cow to ever fall. But whatever happened to boxing? I wouldn’t know. I’m too young to remember its seemingly infallible glory day. All it would take is a few damning studies that leave major sponsors of the league no option but to pull out or face a loss of business. It would be followed by a backlash against the sport in the world of academia, leading to the fall of the college game. Other sports would take its spot in the national spotlight and the world would move on.
This all isn’t going to happen overnight. I’ll still be watching football next Sunday, and so will you. But as the league digs itself a deeper and deeper hole, we could be well be on the way to its imminent demise. And in my opinion, that day couldn’t come soon enough.
Why? Because I never want my son to ask me if he can play.
Ethan Sturm is a senior who is majoring in biopsychology. He can be reached at Ethan.Sturm@tufts.edu or @esturm90.