Five years ago, I made a decision to give up watching and following college football. While I didn’t as explicitly quit following and watching the NFL, I found that over the course of that first season without college football, my interest in professional football waned, and over time, I have given up the NFL and football at other levels as well.
All of this hasn’t been easy. Football is so heavily built into U.S. life and had become so much a part of my fall routine that at times I have found myself watching a few minutes of a game and, more often, checking scores and standings for various leagues at various levels. Working at a Division I university makes it even more difficult because so many university activities, especially in the fall, revolve around football. Yet, despite the occasional slipups, I remain committed to avoiding football and to get to a point where I never check standings or scores and never choose to watch any part of any game.
You can read my blogpost from five years ago for explanation of my reasons for giving up college football. Those reasons had much more to do with the inappropriate position of football within university power structures than with the physical toll of the sport on its participants. That said, in the five years since, that physical toll has become much greater of an influence on my decision to avoid football. Stories from the past week about deaths playing college football and the results of the study of former professional footballplayer Aaron Hernandez’s brain strengthen my resolve. It really is time to end this sport. Those who run it don’t appear willing to end it or even address the problem in a meaningful fashion. Many of them have sought to downplay and discredit the connections to brain injuries. They are making too much money off it. And so, I’m led to the same conclusion I came to five years ago: within our current economic system, power exists in consumption choices. More of us must refuse to consume football, and we ought to do it sooner rather than later.