Jason Reid recently wrote a provocative column for the Washington Post. He kicks off his column with a very strong statement:

“With each bone-breaking, head-injuring hit, NFL players are killing themselves slowly,” wrote Reid. “It’s not a possibility. It’s a fact, no less certain than the league’s immense profitability.”

Knowing what we now know regarding the long-term impact of concussions and repetitive sub-concussive brain trauma (which, as an example, can result from offensive and defensive linemen pounding heads on every play), does it make it harder, as fans of the game, to cheer wildly and passionately over football plays — especially those big hits that always seem to get the most energetic reactions in the stands or in our living rooms?

I’ve studied sports concussions and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), the progressive degenerative disease found in the brains of some deceased NFL and NHL players, enough to know that we’re talking about very scary stuff. I believe that brain trauma will be the number one sports issue of the coming decade.

Brain trauma — and what becomes of a lot of former players — is always in the back of my mind now when I watch NFL and NHL games.

It makes the games a little less enjoyable when you feel a bit guilty for deriving entertainment from an activity that has such profoundly negative consequences for a significant group of former players.

As Reid concludes, “I’ll continue to watch as well. But that doesn’t mean I’ll feel good about it. Or that I should.”

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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