Former elite gymnast, Timothy Dalrymple, gives his take on the issue. Here is his conclusion:
Growing up in the gymnastics world, I cannot tell you how many times I heard the stories of gymnastics legends who suffered injuries and persevered in the competition. And I get it. Athletic competition is about striving to overcome your physical limitations, striving to overcome all challenges and achieve greatness. No one forces these football players to play. And they’re paid handsomely.Read the rest.
But a distinction needs to be made between passing injuries to the extremities — sprained ankles, broken wrists, torn tendons, hyper-extended knees, and the like, the vast majority of which will heal and be forgotten — and injuries to the spine and the head, which can have devastating lifelong consequences. At its worst, sports culture makes no distinction (as my coach told me after I broke my neck, “We all break bones now and then”) and even encourages a kind of scorn for the body and its welfare. The athlete — again, when sports culture is at its worst — refines and hones and trains the body, and yet treats it with scorn, as something that must submit to the power of the athlete’s mind and will.
If we the viewers do not press the NFL to make meaningful changes, the changes probably will not come. Football culture is powerfully masculine, a modern gladiatorial arena celebrating harnessed aggression and controlled violence. Many morally thoughtful people are fans of football. They need to recognize that young men, many of whom know no better and have no better options, are sacrificing their lifelong health for the roar of the arena. Young men — many of them young black men from poor families — should not have to destroy themselves, inviting injuries that will haunt them for the rest of their lives, for our viewing entertainment.