I’d like to share with you some terrible news… I’m dying.
Now, before we start planning a lowering of flags and funerals and whatnot, let me clarify. We’re ALL dying. From the moment we’re born, our bodies are attacked by gamma radiation and disease and pollution. While life expectancy has grown over the past decades, we all fall in the end.
Some fall way too early and some outlast generations well past 100. There is no secret recipe, there is only endurance, as much clean livin’ as you can muster and perseverance.
There are many to whom longevity of life is less important as the quality of the time spent on this planet. Those are the folks you see cliff-diving and surfing and driving race cars. We have a long tradition of triumphing the “Devil may care” lot. Paul Walker, a popular actor in the “Fast and Furious” series is a good example as his life ended in a fiery car crash last week. Fans across the globe heralded Walker’s life saying he went out on his terms.
But sometimes there’s not an immediate tit for tat. Sometimes, damage is done to your body that doesn’t show up for years, but you get the benefit of the glory or the adrenaline rush or even the money.
Football has become one of those areas where men are paid a handsome sum to run into each other for sport. Until recently, the extent of the damage they did to themselves wasn’t fully known. But now, a clearer picture is emerging – one that spells out the destruction football players are doing to their bodies and their minds. CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is the condition that is slowly eating away at a player’s brain through constant brain traumas or concussions.
Those who have played football are finding that 10 or 20 years after they finish playing, their minds are turning into mush or getting alzheimers-like symptoms and dementia. Some lash out in fury while others close off completely.
One weapon these football players have looked towards recently has been the lawsuit. Former Kansas City Chiefs and Missouri Tiger football players both recently filed lawsuits against their schools, employers and equipment manufacturers stating they knew more than they let on and let these folks destroy their bodies. While the main questions of “What did they know and when did they know it” are important, it’s also important to remember that these men willingly offered to play the sport at that high of a level. Of course there was going to be some damage to your body.
But those player are the ones doing the damage to themselves. Should these brave men be allowed to get damages above what they earned which includes salary and scholarships? That’s for a jury to ultimately decide. However, it seems to me that these guys knew some level of what they were getting themselves into. Does that mean they needed to incur life-threatening injury? Well, in some cases, yes. Playing football is no different than cliff-diving or race car driving. You accept an inherent element of risk. Dale Earnhardt accepted that risk as he died fifteen years ago smashing into a wall as did Paul Walker. A football player smashing into another player on a kickoff is no different.
In my opinion, while unfortunate and while we should continue to honor these warriors, it does not automatically mean that these men should receive any compensation over what they initially received for signing up for a hazardous job.
We’re all dying. Some of us just find a faster way to get there, but those are the ones with the best stories.