In a game as brutal as football, injuries are unavoidable. The speed of the game; the strength of the players; the random trajectory of tackled and blocked bodies bouncing into vulnerable extremeties. All explain why the sport of football takes down its own athletes at such an alarming rate.
But there is another reason for all the carnage. Namely, you.
Michael Oriard of SLATE argues that you don’t have to put your helmet to Willis McGahee’s kneecap or drive Chad Ocho Cinco’s shoulder into the turf to feel a touch responsible for his injury. All you had to do was watch it on TV.
Injuries are not incidental to NFL football but necessary. Without them, the game’s risks would not seem real and the players’ heroism (or celebrity) would be diminished. Brett Favre is revered for playing with a broken thumb on his passing hand; guys who refuse to play with pain are despised. No one wants to see a re-enactment of Joe Theismann’s compound fracture on Monday Night Football, but the fact that every quarterback risks such mayhem every time he drops back to pass contributes hugely to the charge we feel when watching the game.
The article concludes that playing NFL football is such a life-changing experience that players willingly accept the inherent risk of serious and/or permanent injury in exchange for the promise of wealth and fame. And that’s where you come in: your obsession with the NFL makes all that wealth and fame possible, and therefore encourages players to submit to routine physical abuse.
Everyone—players, fans, and owners and their accountants—loves the high and is reluctant to acknowledge the cost or to admit the uneasy truth that it’s the cost that helps make the high possible.
We’re all part of a vicious circle, subjecting our fellow man to untold pain and suffering for our profit and pleasure. And it’s all that pain and suffering that makes football tailgate-party fun instead of just Olympic-badminton amusing.