There has been another football player suicide, one who was diagnoses with a degenerative brain condition due to all the concussions suffered while playing the smash mouth game people love to watch, cheer, and bet money on.
Naturally, there's people demanding rule changes. And footballs stars are decrying the proposed changes, saying they will sissify the game. It's interesting that the only people objecting to the rule changes are those who are big stars with millions to live on, never have to work another day in their lives, and plenty of insurance to pay for whatever comes their way. Oh, and they show no signs of brain injury. Alex Karras is best known to folks like me for playing the dad on Webster. Others know him as a great football player and a witty, insightful sports commentator. He is presently part of a class action lawsuit against the NFL for concussions. Karras doesn't remember any of his football or sports reporting days. None. There's a big hole in his memory. Although he is set for life with the money he made, residuals from Webster, and his partnerships with his wife, he believes the NFL didn't do enough to protect him.
The ratings for the last Super Bowl were disappointing. But the wagers made on it were still pretty high up there. If you are looking for gambling action, football is practically engineered for it. There are so many things to bet on (one guy won a Super Bowl wager about a safety being scored at the start of the game, the first time that happened in decades). Remember, Chicago is where the point spread was invented. Sports teams hesitate to put franchises in Las Vegas for fear of collusion charges. But not only do they not do anything about all the gambling, not even running those token "Gambling problem?" messages that casinos do, but there are still point shaving scandals and refs associated with bookies.
And you know that a lot more goes on, it's just everyone knows how to keep from being noticed, from being caught. Spirited competition is fun in theory, but it doesn't pay for high society living.
People will bet on anything, and bookies will take bets on anything they can make money on. They took bets on the NFL draft and the length of Kim Kardashian's marriage, after all. According to the book Money Players, NBA commissioner David Stern was in college and his flatmates didn't have enough for rent. He set up a sports pool, and had the money by that afternoon. People see no harm in gambling until they get a hint of just how far those tendrils extend into their favorite sport. It's not just can you trust a sport that might have people juiced on steroids, can you trust a sport where bookies have an interest in getting as many people to bet as they can and want close competitions to make anyone think they can win?
Football was re-engineered to be loud, violent, and spectacular. No one cares about the players who destroy their bodies and, by extension, their lives for the game. Combine that with bounty systems which were known about before the "official" discovery of the Saints', and you are seeing something going on around the country -- people are not signing their kids up for football like they used to. Popularity is starting to wane, and so is participation as people want their kids to actually, you know, live. The average life expectancy for men is 79 years. For NFL players, it's 53-59.
The reason I keep going back to the bookies is because, well, they like money, too. And they will have to find something else to bring in bettors' money if football loses its luster with the general populous.
So what comes next?
Who will be the next to offer themselves in sacrifice to the gambling gods?
And will it happen voluntarily? Or involuntarily?