Football Decimation

Football is by far America’s favorite sport to watch, and has been since the 60s. Football is also far less healthy than most sports.  For example, while Italian soccer players live longer than most folks, US football players live far shorter:

While U.S. life expectancy is 77.6 years … the average for NFL players is 55, 52 for linemen.

(HT Nancy Lebovitz.) Apparently:

The average NFL player plays just 3.52 seasons and loses two to three years off his life expectancy for every season played.

If true, this is an amazingly huge health harm, especially considering how much we regulate health harms in most areas.  It is far beyond the risk we’ll allow people to take on most jobs, even soldiers or astronauts.  And it is far beyond the risk we’d let customers accept in a consumer product.

Surely we can see football hurts players – we often see them carried off in on stretchers.  But I wonder: would we accept this harm nearly as much if we saw it all up close?  Players would suffer the same average loss if each season one out of ten players just dropped dead on the playing field!  (A dead 25 year old player loses 55-25 = 30 years, which is ten times the three years life lost per player per season.)

Would we really accept such carnage before our eyes?  And why do we regulate other health harms so strictly, yet so eagerly watch this decimation?

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