2017 South Side Questions: Do Injuries Color Your Opinion Of Football?

The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.

We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.

Question: Do injuries ever give you pause, and make you rethink your position on violent sporting events?

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I loathe seeing harm come to anybody, in just about any context, even those who are ‘deserving’ of it. It is especially troubling when it could easily be avoided. And we can easily enough not engage in violent sports that have a proven connection to severe brain damage, among many other physical ailments.

This isn’t about ‘they signed up for it’ and ‘they know what the risks are’. I’m not talking about all of that. I’m just talking about you, and what you think. What did you think about when you saw Ryan Shazier lying on the field? What was on your mind when you read that he underwent spinal stabilization surgery?

One would be hard-pressed to find an athlete in better physical condition than Shazier, yet he was injured why attempting to make a fairly routine tackle. Things happen. In football, and in life, ridiculous things happen that just plain suck.

But we choose to entertain ourselves, directly or vicariously, in violent ways. This is a decision that we make routinely. I do it as much as anybody else here. I literally make a living off of sharing my thoughts about a violent sport. And yet I wonder how much longer it might be around.

Will I still be able to watch live football games, or boxing matches, or hockey, when I’m in my old age? Will these sports still be available for mainstream public consumption, and if so, how well will they resemble what we see today?

I’m just curious as to how many people are out there like me who ask themselves why we watch these things, especially at the times when we have it put forth right in front of us what the consequences are. Football is literally an entertainment industry and serves no other utilitarian function. It’s unnecessary otherwise, and a severe health hazard. And yet also beautiful. Which is why we watch.

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