Growing evidence of football’s brain-injury toll has inflicted a hard hit on the sport’s image over the last few years.
Even President Barack Obama, in an interview released Sunday, told The New Republic: “I’m a big football fan but I have to tell you, if I had a son, I’d have to think long and hard before I let him play football.”
So due to the increased awareness of football’s hazards, the president will be likely be wincing at helmet-to-helmet collisions Sunday night when the Baltimore Ravens bump heads with the San Francisco 49ers.
So will many of the 110 million or so other Americans projected to watch Super Bowl XLVII.
OK, so plenty of fans will also be criticizing officials for throwing flags on sudden impacts that once were not only within the rules but repeatedly celebrated in highlight clips.
Still, as the president put it: “I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence. In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won’t have to examine our consciences quite as much.”
Yet before feeling guilty about cheering a jarring tackle by the Ravens or 49ers — or the Gamecocks, Tigers or Bulldogs — ponder the insight of former Jacksonville Jaguar All-Pro offensive tackle Tony Boselli.
Taking umbrage to the president’s comments, Mr. Boselli tweeted ESPN’s Mike Greenberg on Sunday: “I do have boys, and I’m thinking long and hard about them getting near politics. No problem with them playing football.”
Sure, playing football is dangerous.
But so is playing politics.
Lest you doubt that grave perils lurk on the campaign trail, recall the abundance of cheap shots delivered with personal-foul intent last year in elective races across the land.
Despite the hazards that come with candidacy, however, 19 people beat Monday’s filing deadline to run in the 1st Congressional District primaries on March 19.
And while defensive players on the gridiron are increasingly subjected to questionable roughing calls, politicians are still free to pile on each other without fear of fines or 15-yard penalties.
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