Within a few hours of my writing this post, the 50th Super Bowl will be underway. I will not be watching; that's the least I can do.
Having played football in grade school, I switched to swimming and baseball in later years. Our son also shunned football, opting for soccer, tennis and swimming, evoking reference to "sissy sports" from some extended family members. Indeed, a large number of boys choose to play football, encouraged by fathers who played the sport or by those who wish they had experienced the glory. Chasing the promise of wealth and fame, fueled by the same public voyeurism that filled the Roman Coliseum, those with exceptional talent stay the course, ignoring the risk of serious injuries that include spine fractures and traumatic encephalopathy.
Finally acknowledging these risks, the NFL and the NCAA have enforced a number of safety rules and are seeking to improve the protective gear. While such efforts are no doubt sincere, the financial windfall is too great to significantly alter or abolish the sport; besides, rabid fans, the media, the sporting goods industry and wealthy alumni would not condone such a drastic move. In the end, it will be up to parents to turn the tide, discouraging their boys from playing football (at least in its present form). Those who ridicule such an idea, seeing it as just another move to "pamper" our kids, are either blindly committed to the sport or insensitive to the growing list of tragedies.