Is watching football immoral today?


photo courtesy of Creative Commons

A debate has emerged about the ethics and morality of watching football in today’s world/

In the past couple years, experts and enthusiasts have found a lot of information that playing football causes not only concussions but also a disorder called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE. Football is a rough and dangerous sport in that players are very easily injured and the rate of concussions has significantly increased. This has raised the controversial question of whether we should even watch football on television as players put their health at risk in front of large audiences. 

Although it could be seen as immoral for us as viewers and fans to watch the sport, I believe the fact that football and all other sports are considered entertainment creates a statement that the sport is played to excite viewers and to draw them into every play to see what will happen next. Football is a very exciting sport and although it is hard to watch the injuries that occur every once in a while, fans love to cheer on their teams. Watching the amazing plays that happen and the hard work and effort put in by these players in order to win games, and draw in more fans by being a winning team.  Although football can be exciting at times, injuries also play a big role in the game. Critics of football point to the damage of head to head collisions on the field. 

  Studies have found high rates of concussions, traumatic brain injuries, and CTE in former players. These studies also found that are approximately 0.41 concussions per NFL game of American football: 67.7% of concussions involve impact by another player’s helmet, 20.9% involve impact by other regions of the human body, and 11.4% involve impact on the ground, either when players’ body’s hit the ground too hard causing injury. Although there have been strides to make the game safer there is really nothing you can do when it comes to one player banging their helmet to another player’s head. 

Jewish Text department teacher Rabbi Reuvane Slater said, “From a Torah perspective, I can’t imagine that it would be OK to watch or play football. It is a pretty violent sport.” 

As Jews, we look to our Rabbis and the Torah for difficult questions that we cannot answer ourselves. From the perspective of the Torah, letting players put their health at risk every play is certainly wrong, but I do not think that means we should not watch football. I get the idea of not just being a bystander and watching these players ruin their health, but I think injuries are not the only thing that can go into this argument. 

Since I was very little, watching football on Sundays was something I looked forward to every week, especially since I was able to go to every home game and watch it live. It was so exciting to watch and the message that some of the players share with their fans is amazing. A lot of players do special things in their communities to improve their lifestyle there. Some things these players do include: visiting sick kids in the hospital, raising awareness of certain diseases, and motivating kids to follow their dreams. Many players have spoken out about the hard work it takes to play football and how, even though injuries are a risk, winning and playing the sport they love is a special job to them. These players inspire young kids to believe that anything is possible if you work hard enough. Football to me is something that plays a huge role in my life and taking that out of my life because of religious beliefs would deeply affect me as a person. 

The information found about the sport makes people question whether or not they should watch it. I believe these players decide for themselves what is best for them and, even though they might get injured, they work hard to play football and have a passion to play the sport. 

Even though the Torah wouldn’t favor the dangerous situation these players put themselves in, the sport provides joy and entertainment to viewers like myself and gives me something to enjoy on the weekends and follow throughout the year. Football is an entertaining sport and brings people together by having a common interest, creating a stronger bond between communities and the nation as a whole.