Happy Superbowl Weekend: Watching The NFL is Unethical

The best thing about the superbowl, as someone who drives by downtown every day, is that traffic is very low. The worst thing is that the NFL is totally unethical and watching it is a bad moral decision.

We all make bad moral decisions sometimes. I’m driving to work, for example. But it’s worth saying what it is. I wrote for Pacific Standard:

Honestly, though, there were reasons to ditch the NFL long before they botched the response to Kaepernick’s protest of police brutality and racism. As journalist David Dennis Jr. wrote last September, the NFL’s tolerance for misogyny and domestic violence isn’t new; Dennis even apologized for having waited so long to boycott the league. Then, of course, there’s chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). It’s not news that football is bad for your brain if you play it, and more recently the NFL has worked hard to minimize big hits, especially on unaware players, and to treat concussions more seriously. It likely won’t matter. There are still so many concussions. The degenerative brain disease is most likely caused by the low-grade constant impacts that come with just playing the game correctly, especially for linemen and others who make contact with the opposing side each play. A study released in July looked at the brains of 111 NFL players; all but one had CTE. There’s no ethical way to watch a game where people are damaging their brains even when playing as safely as possible. Yes, NFL players get paid, but only because we’ve got a market for bloodsports. Moreover, their example promotes the sport among college students and teenagers who are encouraged to damage their brains for free.

Life is full of unethical actions. You can’t own a cell phone or eat Asian shrimp without being implicated in slave labor. Meat is murder. Flying vegetables from California to other states contributes to global warming. We all make our choices about where we draw our ethical lines, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves: Watching the NFL is an unethical activity.

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