This article also appears on the Huffington Post
Last night I walked by a sports bar on my way home from work and thought, “Oh, it’s Monday night. There’s football on!” For a moment I was gleeful, my mood lifted and then I remembered – I don’t watch the NFL anymore and feelings of sadness and loss came over me.
Sports were a central part of my upbringing. They were the activities that we did together as a family, they were our shared entertainment, and they were a point of conversation and of income and a reason to travel. Indeed one of my fond childhood memories is of sitting on the sofa with my father and watching football on a Sunday afternoon in the fall.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a zealot about my boycott, I will still gladly sit on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon and watch football with my father. However, outside of that I will not engage in following, cheering, or watching the NFL.
I know my boycott means nothing to the NFL and its franchises, but it is meaningful to me. I do not want my time and actions to promote an activity that knowingly harms another human being’s life. The NFL has long been aware of the seriousness of head injuries and has actively sought to cover up this topic. I’m not an expert in this area, but have found these credible sources:
- Congressional report says NFL waged improper campaign to influence government study
- F.L.’s Flawed Concussion Research and Ties to Tobacco Industry
- The Autopsy That Changed Football
Also, this beloved game is full of sexism. We can start with the most obvious: the cheerleaders who dance on the sidelines in revealing outfits for the entertainment of the fans. Many have been paid below the minimum wage in stark contrast to the riches the men in the organization receive.
I’m not writing this to try and convince you to participate in this boycott. Though I think it is worthwhile, I recognize how deeply engrained this sport is in our culture and how it is a lifeline for so many.
I’m writing this because I want you to know that I love football and I miss it, but I’m voting with my time and money by not participating in it as a fan. If you join me in this, I thank you. If you don’t, I completely understand.
Perhaps, someday, our entertainment and the long-term health of the athletes, and respect and equity for all individuals, can exist in harmony.
Until then, you’ll find me outside raking leaves and hiking this autumn.
Note: I do not support the boycott of the NFL because players want to point out racism in their country. I support all people’s right to peaceful protest as outlined by the constitution.