“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Junior Seau did have CTE, as he must have suspected when he shot himself in the heart, leaving his brain behind to answer for his loved ones that inviolate “why?”

Football is, for me, like wrestling. Something I used to love that I’ve had to turn away from. It used to be that the questions were “Is it real?” “Are they cheating?” “Is he on steroids?”

And now the question is “Am I watching a man kill himself, maybe without even realizing it, for my amusement?”

More and more, I cannot deny that the answer to that question is “yes.”

It’s not just that. Honestly. If you’re an adult and you want to do something dangerous that might kill you, that’s your business. Sky-dive away. Climb that mountain. Whatever.

No, what really bugs me about it is that CTE robs people of their lives, of their families, of the people they recognize themselves to be.

I don’t mind–though perhaps I should–if you want to risk your life. But I cannot forget how much I enjoyed watching Chris Benoit risk his wife’s and son’s lives. Even though no one knew that was what was at risk when he launched himself from the top rope like a fireplug in a minor victory over gravity. I read he became very religious toward the end of his life and his whole family was so relieved, because they knew he’d been through some dark times recently, and maybe this was a sign he was finding his way out from it.

Except that apparently newfound religiosity is a symptom of CTE damage. His family just didn’t know how to recognize it for what it was–a danger sign. What they should have been able to read as a good sign was the opposite.

It even robs you of your religion.

And I should find that entertaining?

On weekends, I regularly drive by a field full of kids playing football. They’re so small and their helmets so big that they look like mushrooms out there. To which one of them would you say “I hope you kill your own child.”? “I hope you become a stranger to your own spouse.”? “I hope you shoot yourself in the heart so that science can have your head.”?

5 thoughts on ““Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

  1. I am in the same place with you regarding wrestling and football. My family chose to quit football this year because of Junior’s suicide and the Penn State scandal; the reasons not to watch just kept coming.
    I am also on board with people choosing to risk their lives if the choose, but they are also putting their loved ones at risk, women and children who never ever chose to play football. It destroys their lives too, if they’re lucky enough not to be murdered by their loved one.
    Those kids can’t comprehend the risks. They can’t consent to taking those risks.

  2. Growing up near UTK, the fanaticism around football there always bothered me. I always felt there was too much hero worship, too much shouting at the tv, too much invested in the performance of these *kids,* people who were barely older than me (when I was considering colleges), as though they were not real people (aside from regular grumblings about athlete behavior, school priorities, grade changing/cheating, etc.). Adding the brain injury piece just multiplies the disgusting-ness for me by several times, that we ask them to do this to themselves and their loved ones, so we can be loud and obsessive every week over nachos and beer.

  3. I’ve never been particularly interested in football, but yeah, now it just seems sort of gross and wrong even to think about being interested in it. “Get out there and possibly give yourselves dementia for my amusement!” Ick.

    And then I find myself wondering if the concern about brain injury gets serious enough, but people still want to see the game, are we going to get this weird almost military deal, like, are the well-off white folks going to be keeping their kids out of this sport for safety, while poor kids of color keep playing because it’s a shot at the good life?

    “Get out there and give yourselves dementia for my amusement, unvalued people with no better options!” Which is extra special gross.

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