To the editor:
I am not a football fan.
This is partially because the sport is too violent for my tastes. But it’s mostly because I had to endure 20 years of couch potato weekends with my ex-husband — and him talking to the TV rather than me. His mood during the week depended upon whether his team — or teams — won or lost.
However, I don’t live in a bubble or under a rock. And I do listen to and watch local broadcasts, so I was aware of Robert Griffin III and the Redskins’ weekly results.
First, there was the concussion, and then the knee injury, from which the young gun seemed to recover inordinately quickly. My thoughts were that this kid is human — not some super avatar in a fantasy video game — and in all the hoopla, he, the team and the fans were losing sight of that fact.
When he was not pulled earlier in the playoff game against Seattle — when it was obvious to even an unfamiliar eye like mine (yes, I was watching while cooking dinner) that he could not play effectively — it just underscored how skewed our priorities have become and how entrenched cultural wackiness is.
This generation, of which Griffin is part, has bought into a lack of long-term thinking in a society already obsessed with fame and dominated by entertainment.
Griffin is a franchise player, and his health and longevity — or anyone else’s for that matter — should not have been imperiled for our momentary amusement. I do not agree with Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray that had the Redskins won the game, the quarterback’s lingering limping presence on the field would have been viewed as courageous rather than controversial. An outcome must never color and distort the perception of the actual underlying facts.
Now that he’s had to have surgery, most of the talk is about how soon this rookie phenom will be able to come back. Few are seizing the moment to take a timeout, turn their attention to and reflect upon the escalating inhumanity of the game. It is, after all, played by mortal men.
There is an increasing frequency of early onset dementia and suicide among former players. More than 2,000 of them are suing the NFL for knowingly jeopardizing their health. The National Institutes on Health just released the results of its analysis of former linebacker Junior Seau’s brain, finding evidence of CTE — a degenerative disease linked to repeated blows to the head.
Is that enough?
Nope, we’re still focused — and I use that word loosely — on our immediate enjoyment. It’s as if a good hit, the result of gunning for an opponent and injuring another, should give us pleasure. Sound familiar? It should.
In another setting, there is outrage over such behavior as perverse, deplorable and insane. Let’s hope it doesn’t take a year of cumulative devastating events, culminating in a “sports Sandy Hook,” to wake us out of another stupor — when it’s almost too late. Again.
– Karen Ann DeLuca