In response to 'Baranowski getting headaches from concussion talk'

In the words of the famous German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “He who moves not forward, goes backward.”

Maybe columnist John Baranowski should read some more Goethe before he wrote how he was “sick and tired of all the concern about hits to the head in sports.”

There were two major points in this column that I could gather. The first is that professional athletes make millions of dollars because their sport is dangerous.

With this “logic,” the guys on Discovery’s “Deadliest Catch” should be making millions more than professional athletes. I’m sure you can find thousands of thickheaded individuals who would be willing to fling their bodies at each other at the prospect of cash, but the fact is that this is not what puts fans in the seats of stadiums or why athletes get paid.

The reason why professional athletes are paid so much is because the level of physical talent that they have. The plays these individuals make put fans in the stands, and it is because of their physical talent, not their questionable regard for bodily health.

The second point was that it is wrong that now owners and the leagues are trying to protect the players at the expense of the game in order to protect these million-dollar athletes.

First off, you just realized this? Second, what is wrong with that?

The players make these owners and the league oodles of money and offer entertainment for millions of fans. In order for these owners to make money, these athletes need to play and entertain the crowds, and we need them as fans to entertain us. What is wrong with protecting these athletes who obviously make the game?

Not protecting these players is the equivalent of buying a brand-new Ferrari and not keeping up on its maintenance and expecting it to keep its high-octane performance. It purely doesn’t work that way. In order to get the performance you paid for, you have to take care of it. If not, it will perform on the level of a Ford Tempo. It’s the same in sports, you must protect these athletes or else you will lose them, and like Ferraris, they only make so many high-quality athletes.

When these athletes run out, how are the owners going to make money? Imagine you tune into a NFL game and expect to see high-performance athletes like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning but yet you see some average Joe out there. Are you really going to watch? The answer I think in most cases is no, because like that Ferrari, you expect that high level of performance out of the players in the NFL on the field.

Therefore the league and the owners are doing us a favor in terms of entertainment as fans. Let’s be honest – as fans, that is what we want, you really aren’t getting an emotional experience bordering on the divine from sports, and if you are, your priorities are not there.

Lastly, my main issue is that John Baranowski purely misses the human concern here.

Yes. These athletes are filthy rich and will do anything to make this money even if it means hurting themselves, but if you think about that it is tragic. For so long we have been willing to let these players mangle themselves to the point where life after the game is more grueling than anything they experienced while in the game. Look at Muhammad Ali and tell me it isn’t tragic to see a man trying to hold on to glory and money to entertain us, so broken down he can barely function.

To me it is sickening to watch us as a society throw these men aside after they break down and just replace them with another man destined to do the same trying to make a living. To me, measures to protect men from the physical and in the case of concussions mental and emotional damage is the right thing to do. Just because it is tradition doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be changed.

Baranowski’s response:

The reasons for pay might not be logical, but it’s a worthy justification. Changing the game for protection is just now getting out of hand. It was never like this a decade ago, and there’s plenty wrong: Must we treat everyone with kid gloves? Even athletes? The comparison to Ferraris is misleading; it’s more akin to having a Hummer and protecting it from off-roading. Yes, Ali’s condition is terrible, but he knew the consequences and did it anyways. How much should we protect us from ourselves? You call it progress, I call it infringing on freedom. Let athletes be athletes!