On Sunday, millions of people around the world tuned in to watch the long anticipated Super Bowl. Year after year, this sporting event is one of the most-watched broadcasts of all time. This year, however, I was not among the viewers.
I didn’t choose to boycott the Super Bowl because I dislike football or the exorbitant amount of money the National Football League (N.F.L.) makes each year from the event. Instead, I chose not to tune in because I despise the fact that at every run and every tackle, players expose themselves to ridiculously high levels of brain trauma. I cringe each time a running back carries the ball through the sea of husky defenders and a quarterback has his head slammed against the ground. Because of the extreme physicality they engage in on the field, professional football players are in especially grave danger. The matter is only worse as the violence in the game is seen as normal, especially in professional football and during the Super Bowl.
Recently, the league has received plenty of negative attention and scrutiny from the public. Criticism of the league only increased after researchers at Boston University conducted a study that posthumously examined the brains of 94 N.F.L. players, discovering that 90 of the brains possessed symptoms of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (C.T.E.), a degenerative brain disease believed to be caused by repeated head traumas.
The saddest part of this issue is that it is not new information. The dangers of professional football have been present for many years. The excitement and adrenaline of the game are not worth the irreversible consequences of brain damage. As a result of repeated blows to the head, many N.F.L. players develop C.T.E., says Boston University, and suffer from dementia, memory loss, confusion and mood problems. Furthermore, Neurology Reviews, a review journal that publishes advancements in neurological sciences, estimates that 40 percent of players who have retired from the N.F.L. suffer from depression as a result of brain injuries.
No other major American sports league has been as successful as the N.F.L. when it comes to producing life-altering injuries.
After listening to various speakers talk about the importance of wellness this year, I have seriously begun to reflect upon the physical and mental health of athletes in professional football. I therefore urge the Andover community to become more mindful of the potentially harmful events and cultures we are promoting through our media consumption. By adding to the hype and tuning into the Super Bowl without promoting awareness of the dangers associated with football, we are adding to the problem and the irreversible effects that its violence can have on retired players and their families. We spend large amounts of ime talking about wellness, but then we turn right around and pick a team to cheer for and, thus, support a N.F.L. event that continues to perpetuate destruction of mental and physical health.
I am not saying that students should not watch football, that Andover should eliminate its contact sports or that students should not be excited about the Super Bowl. I merely believe that it is extremely important to acknowledge the risks associated with the sport.
Until the N.F.L. more outwardly acknowledges and mitigates the health risks its players choose to take, I do not want to participate in America’s obsession with the Super Bowl – an event where the game and all of its violence are glorified.