Op-ed

Super Bowl LIII: thank u, next

On Feb. 3, another season of NFL football came to a close; marked by the clearance of supermarket potato chips, the victory of some and the loss of others, the hoarse voices of screaming fans and the gleam of violence in America’s eyes. Ah, the Super Bowl.

Well, the excitement of the weekend is over. Many days will have to pass before you can once again watch large men fight over a little ball, and it’s during this time that I ask you to consider my proposition: how about … there is no Super Bowl LIV? There is no professional football, no tackle football, no football at all? Let’s have 2019 be the last season of football ever played.

I just felt it – the pain and anger that emanated from some of you after reading those words. No more football? She can’t be serious. I’m serious.

At this point, the damage that football players endure can’t be debated. The evidence has piled up into a mountain – the sport shortens the lives of its players. In 2007, the Concussion Legacy Foundation created the first ever research center dedicated to the degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Since then, they have studied the brains of 202 deceased former football players and diagnosed CTE in 177 of them – that’s 88 percent.

When you sit down on Sunday nights with your popcorn and team shirts, you’re watching men hit their heads hard enough that it causes a breakdown of the blood-brain barrier. The co-founder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, Chris Nowinski, describes the process as “causing the blood vessels in the brain to become leaky,” leading to inflammation – essentially, you’re watching the players give each other massive brain trauma.

From Little League to the NFL, I have never watched a single game of football, and I’ll be so bold as to chastise those of you who have. Whether you’re pulled to the sport for social or entertainment reasons, doing anything from turning on the channel to buying merchandise is only helping to propagate the NFL’s practices.

As Americans, we pay these players sickeningly large amounts of money to hurt themselves for our enjoyment; all so that what – we can watch a ball fly through a post? And if you can’t see my point through the shameful bloodlust lens, the problems of the American Football League can also be taken in the direction of sexism.

Sexual harassment allegations at the NFL Network are nothing new, from the infamous harassment of sports reporter Lisa Olson in the New England Patriots’ locker room in 1990 to the 2017 lawsuit filed by Jami Cantor – a former wardrobe stylist at the NFL Network – for sexual allegations against ex-players Marshall Faulk, Ike Taylor and Heath Evans. The league itself has been hit by one high-profile scandal after another in terms of domestic violence allegations from multiple NFL player’s partners (a problem that the league says they will handle with more severity “in the future”), and don’t even get me started on the demeaning jobs of the NFL professional cheerleaders.

At this point, the problems with the NFL and American football culture as a whole extended far beyond just sexism and violence and into the realm of irredeemable. 

Emma Bickerstaffe is a second-year English writings major and journalism minor. EB891492@wcupa.edu

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