By: Matt Ryan

In a recent New York Times article, the article illustrates the suicide of former Chicago Bears player Dave Duerson. When committing suicide last week, Duerson shot himself in the chest. He did this to ensure his brain would remain intact so that his brain could be studied for a disease that he believes, and much evidence argues, is plaguing football players. The collision to the brain is taking a toll on many former players, and is harming their lives. Recent studies are strongly illustrating the brain risks to football players. This is a public health and social justice issue. We must examine how this sport is affecting individuals, and see what can be changed.

The suicide of Duerson struck a chord with many former football players. The glory of playing under the lights soon ends with retirement for these once-stars. Instead, health issues belabor the players. As a society, we must realize these issues. Instead of glorifying the stars when they are in their 20’s we also need to examine how football can become safer. For future stars, we need to ensure that brain injuries are not as rampant.

Although there is much research being done to improve helmet safety, some argue that this only increases the risk. Now, players feel they can hit harder with their heads. Thinking that the helmet makes head injuries impossible, players often put their heads in dangerous spots. Instead of glorifying the hard hits, and risky behaviours, we need to examine the consequences of these actions.

I personally love football, but I do not think a sport should ruin the futures of the players. As with all public health problems, we must examine how we can make the situation more just. I touched on this issue because I think it hits at a social justice issue in front of us every Sunday afternoon and every park around our town on Saturdays. I also think this issue shows the difference between entertainment and real life. For these players, their entertainment on the field is long behind as they still deal with complex mental issues. With this, we must examine if new rules need to be implemented, a change of culture on what we value in a football game, or padding needs to be added.


1 Comment

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One response to “The NFL

  1. mpowers

    Before reading this article, I was not very aware of this situation. That being said, I agree that it is an important public health issue. The safety of athletes should be a top priority to organizations like the NFL or youth leagues. Though it is a public health issue, I have a hard time determining if it is unjust or merely an unfortunate situation. Yes, the damage affects football players more than ordinary people. However, the injuries sustained from football are not due to social lottery. Football players have made the choice to enter a high risk sport that is known to result in serious injuries. It is hard to know the background story of every player and discover the motivation behind his football career, but it is hard to see how the situation is unjust upon first glance. Players in the NFL make millions of dollars (a benefit flowing to the “worst off”) and have made a personal choice to accept the risks of football. Therefore, I consider this issue extremely unfortunate and something that should be addressed, but not unjust.

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