Are We Seeing the End of American Football?

Jeff SalzmanFree, Kinesthetic, Perspectives, The Daily Evolver, World Affairs, Worldviews 1 Comment

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It was Super Bowl Sunday last week, America’s great secular holiday where the nation’s top two football teams go to battle to prove who is the ultimate champion. All the attention and hoopla does not, however, hide the fact that football’s popularity is waning in American culture. Attendance has been down steadily (yesterday’s Super Bowl continued an eight-year decline in viewership), as has participation in football programs in communities, schools and colleges across the country. .

The main reason? The awareness of the effects of head trauma caused by the violent contact that is central to the game. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 110 of 111 brains of NFL players had chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Hundreds of personal stories are also being told, exemplified by a major article in yesterday’s New York Times describing the sad decline of 43 year old Rob Kelly, who left major league football 15 years ago and whose mind, as described by his wife, Emily, is now “destroyed.”

Sports represent healthy “red altitude” developmental energy in our culture, the progressive civilization of blood sports that seeks to express physical aggression and competition in ever more benign forms. Football is still with us, but its popularity is undermined with every new case of the tragic personal price paid by so many of our heroes who play it.

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Jeff Salzman

About Jeff Salzman

Jeff Salzman worked with Ken Wilber for several years in building the Integral Institute. He is a co-founder of Boulder Integral, the first bricks-and-mortar venue dedicated to the development of integral consciousness. These days Jeff provides integrally-inspired commentary on politics and culture on Integral Life and The Daily Evolver.


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    As a child I was full of anger: It would build and build until I got in a fist fight and the steam released and I was cool for awhile ( a week or two) and the angst would build until the next fight. Boxing helped me ‘exorcize my demons’ without hurting others in society.
    With each fight the thought occurred: Why are we allowed to do this to each other? I realize most people are unaware of just how brutal this really is.

    To put it in perspective, when the toughest football players decide to turn to boxing, they are summarily destroyed by greatly inferior athletes in the ring.
    The reason for this is most fighters are willing to be beaten to death when they step into the ring. That is terrifying to those who are not.
    People who have a callous disregard for the lives of others are seen as monsters. Those who have a callous disregard for their own life are called boxers.
    There is something deeply wrong with the person who is willing to die for something as insignificant as a boxing match.

    Without boxing/MMA etc., as an outlet, these men and women are dangerous to society.
    Another disturbing aspect to this is EVERY fighter suffers brain damage, over and over, regardless of how good he/she is. Ali is case in point. Sugar Ray Robinson couldn’t walk or complete full sentences by the time he was 60 years old. But boxing/combat sports affords an opportunity, for people who would otherwise end up in prison, to have glory…
    So what do you do???

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