Violent sports

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

Re: Violent sports

Postby kmath » Sun Dec 08, 2013 5:57 am

guyfromlouisiana wrote:I've spent a tremendous amount of time over the past few years thinking about this topic, as it pertains to American football. I was a big American football fan since I was a boy, but for two years now I haven't watched more than a few minutes, and I no longer cheer for any team. Scientists have been discovering for the past decade that an unknown number of players -- quite possibly a great many players -- sustain terrible brain damage and develop an illness called chronic traumatic encephalopathy that leads to early dementia, violent outbursts, depression, and frequently suicide. Here's one recent article on this issue: http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/99322 ... src=mobile

I cheered for my team -- the New Orleans Saints -- for many years and I loved the players. I can't stand watching my favorite players slowly kill themselves. I think of my metta practice. "May all beings be safe from danger." Well, these players are certainly not safe from danger; by some estimates they sustain thousands of concussive and near-concussive hits to the head over their careers. "May all beings be mentally happy." This sport systematically destroys the mind. "May all beings be physically well." American football has long been known to leave players completely physically broken when they retire. "May all beings live with ease of well being." Again, systematic brain trauma and heightened risk for dementia cannot be classified as "living with ease."

So I spent much of my life cheering for football players to defeat (destroy is a better term) other football players. Why? For the honor of my city! For social interaction! For entertainment! There's nothing honorable about what is going on in American football -- especially since league doctors for decades denied that there was any increased risk of brain disease. Once I knew the damage being inflicted on countless plays every year, on each player on every single team, the game was no longer entertaining to me.

There's a great karmic cloud over the United States on the issue of American football, which is the country's most popular form of entertainment. I believe most Americans are choosing to live in denial or willful ignorance about this issue. It upsets me quite a lot, actually.


Totally disagree. The players know there is a major risk involved in playing and they choose to accept that risk -- for the money, for the glory or just for the thrill of playing. Nobody is forcing them. Furthermore, football does have cultural value. The best quality time I have with my dad and brother is while watching football. We bond over it in a totally wholesome way.
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Re: Violent sports

Postby zamotcr » Tue Dec 10, 2013 2:57 pm

guyfromlouisiana wrote:...
There's a great karmic cloud over the United States on the issue of American football, which is the country's most popular form of entertainment. I believe most Americans are choosing to live in denial or willful ignorance about this issue. It upsets me quite a lot, actually.


No, it is not. Playing american football does not create bad kamma. Following your example, then we shouldn't exercise our self. A sport is that, a sport.
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Re: Violent sports

Postby guyfromlouisiana » Sat Dec 14, 2013 6:11 pm

Re:Kmath's comments

I agree that grown men have the right to accept the risks to play football, but football players were repeatedly lied to about the risks by owners and executives whose motivations were purely driven by profit. Secondly, children do not have the ability to adequately weigh the risks of football. Parents may allow their children to engage in an activity with a great amount of risk, but again, parents have been lied to about the risks of football for generations. I think a lot of parents are making decisions for their children based on cultural tradition, hoping the science is wrong, and in the process placing a large gamble on the mental health of their children decades from now. Of course, those football executives want them to keep making this gamble, because the executives are driven by present and future profit. So the American corporations are doing their best to minimize widespread acceptance of the risks of football to the brain. I'd argue that there is no place for young children to play tackle football, and college football is a dubious endeavor at best given the fact that at least a percentage of these young men are dismantling their intellect at a place of "higher learning." In the process, college football players enrich so many people, but they themselves do not earn a dime of legitimate earnings. Let's just make it a professional game.

As for the cultural value in and of itself of bonding with others, there are a lot of ethically unsound things people have bonded over. If you follow the precepts closely, then alcohol is an example of this, isn't it? What about the Roman gladiators? Was it an ethically sound thing for the spectators to bond over the deaths of gladiators? This is the same thing, except players die much more slowly.

Zamotcr, you misread my post. I never said playing football is ethically unsound.
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Re: Violent sports

Postby kmath » Sat Dec 14, 2013 8:09 pm

guyfromlouisiana wrote: I'd argue that there is no place for young children to play tackle football...


Young kids can't hit hard enough to cause brain damage.

guyfromlouisiana wrote:...and college football is a dubious endeavor at best given the fact that at least a percentage of these young men are dismantling their intellect at a place of "higher learning." In the process, college football players enrich so many people, but they themselves do not earn a dime of legitimate earnings. Let's just make it a professional game.


Most of the players are just there to play ball anyway. I'm ok with paying them.

guyfromlouisiana wrote: As for the cultural value in and of itself of bonding with others, there are a lot of ethically unsound things people have bonded over. If you follow the precepts closely, then alcohol is an example of this, isn't it?


Don't think it's actually ethically unsound per se. It's just that it easily leads to behavior that is ethically unsound, hence the precept.

:toast:

guyfromlouisiana wrote: What about the Roman gladiators? Was it an ethically sound thing for the spectators to bond over the deaths of gladiators? This is the same thing, except players die much more slowly.


I guess, but that's a little different. Gladiators weren't paid millions of dollars the way our athletes are. From Wikipedia on gladiators: "Most were despised as slaves, schooled under harsh conditions, socially marginalized, and segregated even in death."

I'm happy to agree to disagree on this one.

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