USA Today: ‘Is it Immoral to Watch the Super Bowl?’

Because the rest of the world might not yet be completely convinced that the wussification of America has succeeded, USA Today unleashed a torrent of literary lameness by posing the question: Is watching the Super Bowl immoral?

“There is mounting evidence and public awareness that playing football is bad for your brain. And now, to dramatize the statistics and grim anecdotes about ex-players succumbing to dementia and early deaths, we have Concussion — a major Hollywood movie starring Will Smith.”

It should be noted that this movie, described in this piece as being “major,” was a complete flop at the box office. It is also worth noting that Dr. Julian Bailes, mentor to Dr. Bennett Omalu (portrayed by Will Smith in ‘Concussion’), and co-discoverer of CTE completely disagrees with Omalu in terms of how CTE effects young people. And he casts at least some measure of doubt about how prevalent CTE may be in the NFL.

But back to how we’re bad people for watching football:

“But is this having any effect on our country’s passion for the fascinating, violent sport that holds our attention more than any other, by far?

A new survey released in the run-up to the Super Bowl this Sunday suggests yes — and no. More Americans than ever before say they would not let their sons play football. Yet football remains our favorite spectator sport (it’s not even close) and there is nothing to indicate that’s about to change.

So at the same time that more and more of us would not let our own sons play, we apparently have no qualms about watching while other people’s sons risk brain damage to entertain us on the fields of the NFL.”

Of course, there’s the fact that those “other people’s sons” made a conscience decision as adults to pursue NFL football, while either not believing the risks exist or accepting responsibility for them. So, why should anyone feel guilty about that?

The article finishes with the author delighting in his smug sense of superiority over you because he’s not watching football:

“In view of the TV ratings, I appear to have little company in my quixotic exit from the crowd of people watching football. That’s not surprising. Football is embedded deep in our culture. Vast amounts of money, passion and loyalty are invested in the game. These will not vanish overnight.

But as the years pass, I suspect qualms like mine will start infiltrating more fans’ heads. More will begin to see the ways in which our football spectating resembles the “sport” perpetrated in The Hunger Games, albeit without the direct killing. More of us realize that what we take to be a “game” that young men “play” is actually not a game, but a path out of poverty pursued mainly by the desperate.

As the sports-and-politics columnist Dave Zirin aptly puts it, the day is likely coming when “no one will play this game if they don’t have to. … The pool of players will become smaller and less economically affluent in the years to come. We will then have to reckon with just what the hell it is we are watching every Sunday.”

Or, in the case of more and more of us, what we used to watch on Sunday.”

It would seem as though the author has already solved his own problem by choosing to not watch football. Maybe he should let everyone else make their choice.

Dylan Gwinn
Dylan Gwinn
Dylan Gwinn is an author and sports talk radio host.