“In 1982, Korean boxer Duk Koo Kim died after a lightweight title fight against Ray Mancini on Nov. 13. Kim slipped into a coma after the conclusion of the fight and was taken off life support four days later. Sports Illustrated’s cover on Nov. 22 featured a photo from the fight with the headline “Tragedy in the Ring.” Two months later, the American Medical Association called for boxing to be outlawed. In subsequent years, boxing’s popularity in America plummeted as it was relegated to pay-per-view events.
Similar concerns exist about football, as several former NFL players have committed suicide as a result of depression caused by CTE, a degenerative brain disease linked to football-related head trauma. At least seven high school football players have died of on-field injuries this season, too. Retro Report’s documentary examines the impact of health concerns surrounding football.”
Interestingly, this was a discussion I had with some folks while watching an ambulance come on to the field at the second straight Oregon State home game, whether it made sense to let your kids play football. I don’t have kids, so I don’t know what I would do, but it does get harder and harder to justify the more we learn about CTE and other long term effects of playing football.
Yet, it still remains incredibly popular, why? I think the one thing about boxing was that a lot of people actually watched that Mancini fight. It wasn’t some fuzzy video of a high school kid that few people saw, it was a brutal beating captured on video.
If we can, let’s compare it to domestic violence. The Ray Rice incident was bad, and then when we saw the video, suddenly public opinion was ten times worse. Eventually, we are going to be forced to watch someone almost die on national TV during a football game. Then, public opinion will start to move.