Thursday, April 27, 2017

My philosophy about football and CTE, stated here for the record.

• Individual choices matter, as long as they're informed.

• The NFL settlement of a suit regarding this issue suggests that for many players prior to the last couple of years, they were not adequately informed of the dangers.

• Nonetheless, let's say they're adequately informed now.

• The incentives to play football still make playing football an attractive prospect to many people, disproportionately poor.

• Those incentives are created by the large audience for football, one that generates money as eyeballs for advertising and spends a good deal of money on the game directly.

• When taken together with college football and high school football, the sport has disproportionate cultural power to the benefit it generates, which makes its costs worthy of extra attention.

• The potential costs of football are high enough, that the incentives to play it are, essentially, incentives for grown men to injure, occasionally maim, and outright harm each other.

• The benefit? We're entertained.

• That imbalance has more implications for people creating the incentives.

• That doesn't preclude free choice. It does mean that choices aren't made in a vacuum. And it does mean that the ramifications of choices aren't contained to that single individual.

• (Ask Jovan Belcher's girlfriend. You can't! She's dead. Ask Jovan Belcher's young daughter then. She didn't choose to have two dead parents.)

• Given that the imbalance in cost and benefit is disproportionate and that individual choices — while valid and free, and even if incentives are largely reduced there are many young men who might play football for the joy of it — the more implications for the people creating incentives become more fraught yet.

• If, as a result, fewer people create incentives, that would probably be a good thing.

• The reduction of those incentives will probably mean a reduction in the number of people of playing football.

• The reduction of those incentives will probably lead to less weirdly gross bulking out among young men playing football, meaning the sheer mass involved in the collisions going forward might be reduced and, who knows, reduce the incidents of CTE among players.

• All of this is done without banning anything at all. It simply confronts the costs of choice and asks people to examine those costs. If you do not choose to watch football, you're not really implicated. If you think other things matter more, you can move on to other arguments.

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