Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Morality of Football

Lisa Fulliam, a professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, asks if football is ethical.

Now it’s inescapably clear that football has long-term neurological sequelae that include syndromes that mimic Alzheimer’s and ALS. (See today’s Boston Globe for one such report.) This is trickier–it seems that getting clonked in the head is unavoidable in the sport. Helmets don’t seem to help. And the problem isn’t only among the pros, where the guys clonking each other are often 300-plus lbs. of solid muscle, but even among high schoolers.

My question isn’t whether football should be banned. My question is whether, knowing this about the long-term risks, it is ethical to watch it, knowing that those brilliant young athletes have a many-times multiplied risk of truly horrific neurological complications in their futures.

I like how Fulliam ends her piece: "I will now take cover under my desk to avoid being clonked in the head by fans of a sport beloved by millions..."