Would you want your child to play football?
That’s the question I found myself asking this morning, in the wake of the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck.
I was lucky. My son got through high school concentrating on basketball and baseball, two sports he played well. He never asked to play football and that was fortunate because I might have said yes.
But we know a lot more about the long-term consequences of playing the sport now than we did a few years ago. And when we see someone like Luck walking away from the game, it has an impact.
He was raised in a football family. His father, Oliver, was an NFL quarterback. The kid became a better quarterback than his dad, earning a scholarship at Stanford and eventually becoming the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.
But then the injuries started to mount.
I don’t need to list them all now, but when he said he’s spent the last four years in year-round rehab, that should tell the story. This game is a legalized crippler. If you’ve ever watched an NFL game from the sideline, you know what I’m talking about. Every play sounds like a head-on collision, which it often is. I will try to be delicate here, but the fact is, it’s played by a lot of people who are crazed physical specimens who thrive on contact and even pain.
You don’t want to be there in the middle of that. And I doubt you want your children there, either.
Yes, the talent pool will inevitably shrink for this league and even for college football. But don’t worry about the long-term viability of the sport. There will still be people who need the money so bad they’re willing to take their chances with the injuries or simply those crazies who just love legally hitting people.
And, of course, there will still be plenty of people willing to spend good money watching them do it.