Football’s Mystique

By Blake Wood, Staff Writer

Football is the biggest sport in America. It’s at the pinnacle of popularity, with the NFL seemingly incapable of making mistakes that will impact viewership. Whether it be the incredibly weak punishment of Ray Rice, the nonsense that was deflategate, or Roger Goodell testifying in front of congress that there was no connection between brain injuries and football, the NFL remained the most popular thing on television, and by a wide margin. The public is hooked on football as if it were a drug and doesn’t seem to care about what the players are doing, or what’s being done to them.

All that being said, I still watch the NFL. Every Sunday I religiously watch the Texans on my TV and flip through the other games on my tablet. When I was younger, it was my favorite day of the week. I watched all of the games that I could and it was great, but now, I don’t have that same feeling. I’m starting to feel guilty.

When we’re watching football, we’re supporting the league in itself, and now, I have a problem with that. This offseason, the Rams moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles. On the surface, this is fine. It’s a free country and if the owner wants to move the team, that’s his business. However, the stadium the Rams played in, the Edward Jones Dome, was built using public funding, as are most NFL stadiums. When the Rams moved, they left the city of St. Louis with their old stadium, which is still strapped with 144 million in debt. Not only do NFL owners demand that a city’s tax payer’s pay for their luxury stadiums, they have no qualms hanging the very cities who paid for their stadiums out to dry. It’s ridiculous and with the NFL’s worth exceeding 45 billion, there is absolutely no excuse for them to screw over tax payers, especially after taking their team away.

We’re still going to buy our apparel, we’re still going to sell out their stadiums and we’re still going to watch in record numbers, even though we know what the league has done.”

As bad as leaving a city to pay off 144 million without the help of the team meant to play in that stadium is, the NFL has done far, far worse. Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, went in front of the United States Congress and refused to admit that there was a connection between football and concussions. Then, in 2013, in an interview with CBS, Goodell once again refused to acknowledge the connection between head injuries and football. Denying the link between brain injuries and football is an embarrassment, but worse than that, the league’s behavior towards concussions put the players at risk. Lawsuits have been brought forth accusing the NFL of hiding brain injuries from the players and last April, a judge approved a settlement that will pay thousands of former players somewhere around 1 billion dollars over 65 years.

Those are just two examples, one economically and one morally, of the NFL putting the dollar ahead of doing what’s right. The league had an opportunity to move from a smaller market, St. Louis, to a huge market, Los Angeles, and did it without hesitation because it benefited them and the league couldn’t care less about everyone else who is adversely affected. The NFL at the very minimum, did not inform the players of all the risks that football entailed, and one can logically assume that they did so because some players would choose not to play rather than take the risk of long term brain damage.

The bottom line is that the league has done some despicable things, yet few people care. We’re still going to buy our apparel, we’re still going to sell out their stadiums and we’re still going to watch in record numbers, even though we know what the league has done. I’m not telling you to stop watching, but make sure you know what you are watching.