Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
My name is Jessica and I love watching football. I feel like someone in
a 12-step program who is supposed to confess my sins and never turn
on the television on weekends in autumn and winter. I know there are
bad injuries caused by the game. I would not want my child to play.
But I am a real fan of the local college team and of some of the pro
teams that my guys now play for. Someone just compared me to a
person who likes dog fighting, and I was horrified and insulted.
Football is coming. What can I say or do, and is it as bad as that?
Yes, and no. Yes what happens on the football field is violent and yes
there is increasing evidence that the sport damages people. At a
minimum it damages players who get clunked in the head. It is
possible it damages us viewers (and yes I too am a college fan) in that
we become too desensitized to violence and start to care less about
people’s health and too much about our own entertainment. Does that
mean I won’t be watching kickoff Saturday? No. Does it mean I think
much more than I used to about why this sport, like boxing or other
full-contact sports? Yes. Do I think we can make a transition to
watching sports like tennis, track and field, or other ways people use
their bodies competitively, or even to chess or bridge or mental
sports? On a good say Yes. But as I watch the horrifying news cycles
we are living through, I fear more often than I used to for our
collective humanity, and for our ability to see kindness as a goal at
least as worthy as winning.
My summary advice: If you have a team you really care about, go
forth and cheer, both for them and for the sport to become more
humane, and more protective of its players (in rules and equipment).
Then go out to do something good for the planet for at least as long as
you watched the game.