The Super Bowl is this Sunday, and I won’t be watching.
After I posted in May about the ethics of watching football and how uncomfortable I am with the growing evidence about endemic and lasting brain injuries I stayed true to my post and I didn’t watch football this year.
Of all the years.
Stanford made the Rose Bowl for the first time since I was in college back in 2000 (and this time they won). The 49ers are headed to the Super Bowl and Colin Kaepernick is one of the most exciting young players in football. But I’ve never seen him play.
To be honest, I haven’t gone completely cold turkey. If I’m at someone’s house or at a bar and football is on I don’t leave the room or insist that people change the channel. I still read football articles and in fact could give you a pretty thorough breakdown of the Alex Smith vs. Colin Kaepernick decision. I still keep up with scores and records.
But I’m not watching, week in, week out. I can’t tell you what a change this is. I was once the chairman of Stanford’s Axe Committee, which has its roots in the Stanford/Cal football rivalry. I’m not sure if I’ll go to another Big Game. I grew up watching Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. I won’t be watching the Super Bowl.
Junior Seau’s death was the ultimate catalyst for my decision not to watch, and I made it without even knowing for sure whether he had the degenerative brain disease that has afflicted so many former players. It turns out he did.
There is mounting evidence that the NFL has not taken this issue seriously enough, but ultimately I think end of the sport will not come with a bunch of fans walking out of a stadium, but rather youth and high school teams unable to find insurance policies and forced to close up, a generation of parents pushing their kids into different sports, and a decline of the sport into the realm of horse racing and boxing.
For my part, in place of football on the weekends I’ve been watching, well, football. Soccer has become my weekend tradition. I wake up, fire up the coffee, and settle in for some writing and the English Premier League.
Anyone else find their habits changing as more news of former players emerge?