A class action suit by more than 4,000 former NFL players against the NFL is currently being settled. The players claim that the league covered up a link between football and brain damage. In 2011 defensive back Dave Duerson committed suicide, and was diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. CTE is a degenerative brain disease that has been linked to many sports specifically football.
The suit shows that there is pressure on the NFL to protect its players. Bob spoke with Mark Waller- the NFL’s Chief Marketing Officer about public service announcements the league was running regarding head injuries. One PSA in particular featured Ray Lewis and Tom Brady. This ad focused on what the NFL was doing to make the game safer. Boasting new rules, raising 100 million dollars for medical research, and better equipment, which can be seen in the link below.
Bob Costas states the campaign is “oddly whimsical.” He went on to compare this campaign to the tobacco industries PSAs in the past. He looks at the body language and explicit language of the campaign and says it is reminiscent to the tobacco industries “insidiousness of their business.”
Mark Waller responded that the add was “for getting peoples attention.” He goes on to explain the tobacco advertisements are a flawed comparison, because it was in the latter half of tobacco industry that they were using this type of ad, and it is just the beginning for the NFL. He says that the league is being transparent in the information that they are putting out. They want to give the right information and as much as possible to inform the public about the dangers of the sport and what is being done. Then parents and children can make an educated decision whether to play the game, or watch the game.
Earlier in the discussion, Bob mentioned that he almost felt bad for being an enabler of the sport. He claims to be an avid fan and says that watching football is basically ritual to him, but that he has noticed the violence and almost gladiator like aspect that the game has turned into. Football is supposed to be a violent sport. It is about physical contact, skill and teamwork, purely. We still allow two men to walk into a ring and beat each other up in sports like wrestling, boxing, or MMA. Some elements of football, such as helmet to helmet hits, should not be allowed. But, if the league continues to change the game, it will evolve too much and true fans will certainly lose interest.
1. Do you agree with Waller that the PSAs were informative and attention grabbing?
2. Is the campaign similar to the tobacco industry’s ads of the past?
3. Do we become enablers of this violence by watching sports?