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The Sad Correlation between Football and War

Updated on May 24, 2012

Junior Seau's death is a reminder of how devastating football can be both physically and mentally. This devastation is closely related to the experiences of soldiers at war during and after battle. Taking a closer look, both have a lot in common. A game plan, similar to the tactics opposing armies devise before an attack, is drawn up before playing an opponent on the football field. Uniforms distinguish one side from the other are worn to represent team or country. There are common terminologies such as formations, multiple fronts, in the trenches - and the draft. In the NFL, teams set up a “war room” specifically for the draft.

The violence in football pales in comparison to war but the damage done psychologically mirrors the other. Concussions in football have been a major concern from the professional ranks all the way down to Pop Warner. Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder, substance abuse, and depression have been rampant among U.S. veterans struggling to continue on with their lives. Head-on collisions and blind-sided hits on the gridiron and blood shed witnessed or experienced in combat, can severely affect the brain, causing major damage to memory, as well as on - emotions - and decision-making.

Suicides have not been as prevalent among football players compared to soldiers, where one suicide is happening every 80 minutes. Junior Seau’s suicide was shocking because he was a popular player, well-liked and respected. However, the casual fan doesn't know that retired players - have been pleading their case about the lingering pain from all those battering head blows. Concussions have similar symptoms to PTSD; these include aggressive behavior, paranoia, depression - and dementia.

The NFL and the military have very disturbing - similarities. Taxpayers fund the wars and the stadiums, and are even billed for stadiums not in use that haven't been fully paid for. Both recruit and train individuals for their financial or political gain and treat them like cattle. The NFL and the government have to do a better job taking care of its retired players and veterans who contributed so much to achieve these institutions’ goals.

Will there ever be an end to wars? I hope so, but football is here to stay. How do we make it safer without forfeiting its entertainment value? With all the concussion backlash, so much emphasis has been on protecting the players; to add insult to injury, the NFL's worst kept secret player "bounties" made the headlines this off-season and intensified its safety issues. New rules need to be put in place. Instead of only receiving a 15 yard penalty for spearing or leading with the helmet, the player should also be tossed out of the game. If a ball-carrier slows down to go out of bounds or concedes to a tackle and gets hit, the aggressor should be thrown out. Being on the receiving end of a blind-sided tackle or block in the torso area can affect the brain similar to whiplash. Kickoff and punting are most dangerous where players are getting hit at every angle; teams need to take precautionary measures to be smarter en route to a runner or punt the ball out of bounds.

Football is number one in this country and the players, as well as the fans, get riled up and emotional during games. As long as football is generating the billions it does every year then the personal and health problems of ex-players will always be swept under the rug. The same goes for our veterans; and as long as majority of the country doesn't have to fight in wars then most people are content, and concern for veterans is just an afterthought. Former players and soldiers yearn for attention and proper care. It seems no one is listening. Now that is depressing, really depressing.


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