Tom Ferguson, Dean of Bexley-Seabury seminary, is a leading voice in the Episcopal Church, especially through his blogging alter-ego Crusty Old Dean. Yesterday, he departed from his usual fare of insightful analysis of church doings and posted a heartfelt piece on why he won’t be a fan of American football anymore.
Crusty is taking a break from his usual pedantic, insider-baseball, church-relations blog to give you an insight into other aspects of his life. Crusty isn’t all about church and matters theological. He enjoys music (Replacements are the greatest band ever), is a runner (at age 46 ran a 26:09 5k on the 4th of July), and an avid sports fan. This blog post is all about my difficult decision to break up with professional football, and on the basis of how I understand myself as a Christian.
He lays out three basic reasons why he, as a Christian, just can’t support the NFL
- Economic fairness and justice
- The NFL does not deal fairly with its employees
- Professional football is killing its own players
The first two speak of an ethical perspective that runs counter to Jesus’ teachings on the value and dignity of an individual’s labor, but it is really the last reason that ‘Crusty’ is compelled to both come to this decision and to share it with the wider world.
They know that football causes chronic brain damage. They forced ESPN to drop out of a PBS documentary on the subject (see here; conveniently, in the past year ESPN has dumped Bill Simmons, Gregg Easterbrook, and Keith Olbermann, the three biggest critics of the NFL). Its proposed settlement to former players was thrown out of court as being too low. The NFL’s product is killing its players, it knows it, and we all should know it.
Undoubtedly, many people will disagree and some even unwilling to examine their participation (and complicity) in an entertaining diversion that too often leads to irreparable brain damage and early death. Please go read the whole thing (here) before making your judgment. What do you think of becoming a conscientious objector to the NFL?