I can almost hear the gasps. Calm down, Oprah. Injuries are serious, I get it. But I didn't need a study done by some eggheads at Johns Hopkins to tell me what I already know. If you ask a professional football player if he's aware of the dangers of football, he'll either say yes or that he's Batman (in the latter case, you may consider sidelining him for a play or two). These are adults who are given the opportunity, or choice, to play a sport they love and get paid an astronomical pimp-wad of cash to do so … or sell Volvos. You understand the word "choice," don't ya? Something I'm pretty sure the ancient Roman gladiators (a recent comparison by some critics) never had. You think Russell Crowe had a choice? He was a slave, for the love of Caesar. Think he chose that salad-bowl haircut? (Whoa … Caesar Salad. I just blew my own mind.)
The selective outrage of the masses, perpetuated by the bleeding-heart hand-wringing experts, never ceases to amaze me. Just how much of a right do any of us have to play dumb about any of this? When I was a kid, a man named Evel Knievil used to needlessly and stupidly risk life and limb for our enjoyment. Sure, he could have played it safe and bagged groceries at the Piggly-Wiggly, but I don't think he would have sold nearly as many action figures. Did we need an expert to tell us jumping 50 school buses on a motorcycle could lead to side effects such as grisly death? Sugar Ray Leonard was named "Boxer of the Decade" in the ’80s. Last time I saw an interview he looked like someone suddenly had just awakened him from a Patron-and-NyQuil coma. Tyson will never do Shakespeare, Ali will never perform surgery, boxing strategy includes repeated blows to the head until knocked out.
Where's the outrage?
In sports, as in life, there are risk-versus-reward choices everywhere. I have relatives who worked in the coal mines. Think any of them would have been shocked if I'd told them that looking like a smokestack when you cough may be hazardous to your health? Other relatives worked the pipelines and were very aware oil is flammable and the equipment could squash them like a hot marshmallow. They got paid a lot of money for what they did … and knew why. They chose these jobs to provide for themselves and their families. Some lives were shortened, but all of them would do it again. They had a choice. So do firefighters, so do cops, soldiers, bomb squad technicians, construction workers, window-washers, pilots, Siegfried and Roy …
It's easy to complain. It takes no intellectual thought. Anybody can say, "This is bad, this is wrong, something needs to be done," yet I hear no answers. Unless we trade shoulder pads for flags or eliminate the sport altogether, it is what it is. In 2010, 32,885 people died in car crashes (considered low). My stars, what ever will we do?
Well, you can start by using your turn signal, asshole.