Today was "Championship Sunday" in the NFL--the day the conference championships would decide which two teams will compete in the Super Bowl in two weeks. Across the country, millions of people sat largely motionless, not counting occasional trips to stock up on greasy, fat laden snacks and/or frosty adult beverages. I found it ironic, therefore, that the lead article in the sports section of today's Times was a feature taking a critical view of men participating in--as opposed to passively absorbing--football.
"Alumni football" games are becoming increasingly popular. As the name implies, these games allow former high-school players of all ages to relive their glory days (or not, as the case may be). Under the auspices of such organizers as Alumni Football USA, games between old high school rivals can be organized. Often times, these games raise money for local chairities, in addition to providing aging athletes the opportunity to "have some fun and hit people." Today's article, however, dwelt primarily on the injury risks incurred by weekend warriors who may too hastily throw themselves into full-contact games.
Now, I will acknowledge that a middle-aged man in typical middle-aged-man shape might be taking a foolhardy risk trying to tackle someone half his age--to say nothing of being tackled by same. On the other hand, COME ON!
Look, we're not talking about pee-wee football players exposed to concussions because of overachieving parents trying to live vicariously through their offspring. These are grown men who obviously love playing football and are more than aware of the risks involved. Sure, they could get hurt. One especially unlucky participant suffered a (non-fatal) heart attack; but he could have suffered a heart attack mowing the lawn, too--or choked on a Cheez Doodle while watching the games on TV! Which do you suppose he preferred?
There are plenty of things to fear in the world today, and sensible precautions should always be taken. But if a personal cost-benefit analysis leads people to take a small personal risk in the pursuit of a greater personal pleasure, more power to them. And for those who took today to relive the glory of their high-school playing days, may I just say: It's the Niners against Baltimore in the Super Bowl.