Will the Football-Induced Suicide of Junior Seay Cause us to Take a Long Hard Look at a Violent Sport?

Professional Football Rocked by the Revelation that 43-year-old Suicide Victim and Former Star Linebacker Suffered from Degenerative Brain Disease from Repeated Hits to the Head

I wonder if the latest revelation about last year's tragic suicide of veteran linebacker Junior Seau at the tender age of 43 will cause football fanatics to take a long, hard look at the sport they crave in light of the revelation that Mr. Seau was suffering from degenerative brain disease brought on by repeated hits to the head.

This story led one of the network evening newscasts on Thursday, Jan. 10, and it is indeed an important issue, presenting a dilemma.

Football is a multi-billion-dollar industry, having captured the attention and devotion of legions of fans. It has made thousands and thousands of individuals wealthy. Many turn their lives over to the sport as their favorite team battles for championships, which mean everything to fanatical devotees.

A reasonable and prudent person can recognize that violence is the focus of the sport and that many of the thrills and chills emanate from plays in which injury occurs or is likely, yet the sport has always been put forth as one which is suitable for families, including impressionable children.

It is hardly news when football players get into trouble with the law, a common occurrence. What can we expect of them off the field when these men are bred to be ruthless battering rams while in play? Even in outlandish circumstances in which players have been shown to have sought to injure others, there is no meaningful punishment dispensed.

Will the National Football League find a way to make the game safer, risking the alienation those that revel in the violence? 

The case of Junior Seay and his grieving family is a red flag. How we as a society respond to it, if at all, will say a great deal about us.

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Roger January 11, 2013 at 01:37 PM
Many stories posted yesterday attempted to connect brain disease to the suicide. It was an easy connection, but without much foundation. The cause-effect relationship is not as simple as many of yesterday's stories led us to believe. Here is one such rebuttal: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?play=1&video=3000140564 The writer points out that many former football players may have CTE, but have not chosen suicide. In fact, he cites the statistic that the suicide rate among former football players is lower than the general population. To jump the gap between football violence and suicide is one that many are unwilling to make. Yes, it makes for easy news stories, appeals to those who want a scientific explanation for personal behaviors and choices. And, it makes a villain for negative outcomes. The groundswell of support for the explanation is another marker of our society unwilling to accept personal responsibility for managing our lives. As long as we can point to the NFL, the ravenous fans who demand violent on-field behavior in the form of a sport, and a loose scientific explanation, then all is well. This is not to minimize the negative aftereffects of a career playing in the NFL. Knee replacements at an early age, back problems, and other ailments are commonplace in the aftermath. Yet, the lines are long for young men to gain access to this world of mayhem (e.g. early enrollment at U of Pitt this week, college Juniors leaving for NFL). .
Ed M January 11, 2013 at 03:42 PM
"A reasonable and prudent person can recognize that violence is the focus of the sport and that many of the thrills and chills emanate from plays in which injury occurs or is likely" You don't know too much about the game, do you Oren? Your statement is not even close to being accurate. If you knew anything about the game you would know that the "thrills and chills" come from watching some amazing athletes perform at a high level. Yes there are injuries, but they are not what give the game "thrills and chills".


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