We’re in the final week of another unnecessarily long stint of preseason football, with the NFL regular season set to begin on Thursday, Sept. 6. With the subject of football back the minds of millions of fans, viewers and detractors, this question seems pertinent: Should you watch the NFL this season?
Viewership ethics are complicated. I’m not going to feign self-righteousness nor a holier-than-thou mentality by bashing those who unquestionably support the NFL despite an array of serious issues surrounding the League. Separating one’s moral and ethical standings from their fandom of sports is not an easy task.
With that said, there’s undoubtedly a lot going against the NFL at this point, so my interest in partaking in the religion that is American football is wavering. Granted, it wasn’t the strongest to begin with, but that’s beside the point. Various issues and concerns are clouding the League at the moment, and they don’t seem to be going away any time soon.
The ongoing concerns for player health and safety — heightened by persistent C.T.E. studies and the spinal injury Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered last season — have remained potent and unwavering for years. The violent nature of the sport, at all skill levels and ages, has left many worried about the clear risk for injury, resulting in many adults and parents shunning the sport and stating that no child play it. All of these concerns are warranted, of course, so it’s understandable why some individuals are completely ending their viewership and support of football at all levels, specifically the NFL.
And, let us not forget the League has never showcased a perfect record pertaining to the handling of violence off the field, as well as other issues of misconduct, such as the occasionally blatant disregard for the toxic nature of players and faculty members who find themselves the subjects of heinous accusations. All too often, serious concerns are either met with lax punishments — if any — and a hollow, tone-deaf response.