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An ever increasing concern by various interested parties over brain trauma suffered by players in the professional football arena has been on the rise. This concern is due to the violence and physical activity that the players undergo while playing the game of football. Ethical questions arise. Does football destroy the brains of National Football League (NFL) players and what can be done to save the situation?
For the first part of the question, the answer is pretty obvious. From the documentary League of Denial (FRONTLINE, 2019) evidence shows that the case is valid. The example of the player Mike' Iron' Webster bears it all. After post-mortem observation, it was realized that he had a severe case of brain trauma (FRONTLINE, 2019). Many NFL players realize that head traumas have taken a toll on them, especially the longtime players. This realization brings us to the second part of the ethical question that we shall dwell upon: What can be done to save the situation?
The premise to be taken is that football should be outlawed. In as much as the injuries are not usually directly mortal, the game is sadly an unfortunate segment of American history. The NFL Films glorified the violence in the game of football accompanied by the brutality that the players suffered or displayed, thus the damage caused as a result be dulled (FRONTLINE, 2019). NFL for a long time downplayed the dangers of concussion and that it was safe for players to return to the game on the same day without any significant risk to a second injury (FRONTLINE, 2019). How mistaken this view was according to the objections of several brain health professionals (FRONTLINE, 2019).
Scientific study has provided the evidence that has already established the positive correlation between repeated head traumas on the football players and the neurodegenerative disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) they exhibited (Ghaemi, Mauer & Omalu, 2019). NFL, on the other hand, flatly denied the evidence provided in the studies that football players are subject CTE, which was rather outlandish (FRONTLINE, 2019). However, so some paradigm shift has to take place on the game for the long term health of the players. Change that should have taken place in the instance Mike Webster's case had come to the foray of the medical and NFL communities.
The mind and the body are interdependent (Kretchmar, Dyreson, Llewellyn & Gleaves, 2017). When the body is well taken care of the mind too will be well taken care of, and therefore the player shall be well taken care of also. The NFL, as already mentioned, has continually denied football-related brain damage due to trauma suffered on the players' heads (FRONTLINE, 2019). However, due to the persistence of the scientific community, the NFL later relented. It was Owen Thomas' case that brought to light the glaring issue of CTE (FRONTLINE, 2019). Therefore, the attitude of violent, brutal gaming has to be de-glorified and rigid rules that stifle unsafe conduct during the game instituted.
The full knowledge and information of the workings of the human body especially the human brain (Kretchmar et al., 2017) and the effects of repeated brain trauma should be made accessible to the populace for each one to be aware of the dangers of the game. After the various post-mortem reports of football players' brains, including Junior Seau's after committing suicide, linking CTE to repeated brain trauma, it made it essential that the dangers that lurk in the game of football be veritably recognized and accepted by all the concerned parties.
In as much as the ethics that any sportsperson has to uphold when playing (Kretchmar et al., 2017) the game of football has been ignored little can be done to reduce the hits players receive and deal during play. The game itself is fundamentally flawed. Having to knock past your opponent, more so, with your head has proven dangerous even with a helmet on (FRONTLINE, 2019). Medical professionals note that these knocks cause even subconscious concussions that when repeatedly suffered, ultimately led to CTE (FRONTLINE, 2019). This evidence is a significant reason to classify this game as lethal if not a potential hazard to the player.
Every parent has to be made aware of the dangers that the game of football portends. Thus, young, teenage children, especially under the age of 14 years, have to be prohibited from playing the sport (FRONTLINE, 2019). The young brains are lighter and have not significantly developed to endure sustained knocks on it (FRONTLINE, 2019). However, this is no reason to entertain adults into the game, as the previously mentioned cases have shown.
To conclude, morally too, the violence that has come to be glorified and much anticipated by both the players and the spectators merely is callous, cold, and chilling. Football has become a household game in American society. On the contrary, no one can minimize the dangers presented by the game to the players cannot. At best, this game has to be outlawed and those that have suffered adequately compensated.
FRONTLINE. (2019). League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis (full film). FRONTLINE PBS. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SedClkAnclk Accessed on June 14, 2019.
Ghaemi, S. N., Mauer, S., & Omalu, B. I. (2019). Lithium treatment for chronic traumatic encephalopathy: A proposal. Bipolar disorders. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/bdi.12757
Kretchmar, R. S., Dyreson, M., Llewellyn, M. P & Gleaves, J. (2017). History and Philosophy of Sport and Physical Activity. Human Kinetics. Champaign, IL.
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