Posting an unpopular position in a blog post online can be a bone jarring hit to your ego. Many people will come out of the woodwork to claim you have brain damage. Such was the result of my post last year about no longer supporting football on Christian grounds. I stopped watching football because of the new research that shows that playing the game will, in most cases, lead to brain damage. I could not, in good Christian conscience, support such suffering simply for my watching pleasure.
Last week, former football great Jim McMahon came out in support of more research. He claims that his memory is gone. I remember the year he led the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl. The excitement, the dominance of the Bears, the Fridge (William Perry) must have rivaled the ancient Roman circus in spectacle and attention. Now, Jim McMahon has a bad memory from his days as the starting quarterback for the Bears. William Perry suffers from Guillain–Barré syndrome, a chronic inflammation disorder of the peripheral nerves. Even though it might not be related to football, the reality is that many of the heroes I grew up watching are now suffering because of the many hits they took in the head. For our entertainment, they took many hits to their heads.
Until I found myself at a restaurant with a group of friends, I had not seen a game in the last year. After having to defend my choice to not support the game, I saw bits and pieces of the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers. I had not realized until then how violent the sport is. Having lost some of my desensitization to the sport that comes from constant exposure, I felt the physical pain of those hits. I could not help but think about what the future will look like for those players.
After reading many studies, I know I will not allow my son to play the game. Now, I am not calling for the game to be outlawed — that would be too much for a sport so entrenched in our non-Christian society. What I am asking for is that the next time you watch a game, think about Mike Webster who lived in so much chronic pain that he would use a Taser gun to fall asleep. Mike Webster who died too young and in too much suffering.
Ernesto Tinajero is a freelance writer in Spokane, Washington, who earned his master’s degree in theology from Fuller Seminary. Visit his blog at beingandfaith.blogspot.com.