Can you believe its Sunday, again?! It was the first week in a while I actually felt as if the days flew by! Didn’t January feel like it was six months long, not just one? I saw many of those “Its January 74th” memes float around social media this week, and boy I couldn’t agree more! Our family felt the “Holiday Hangover” immediately after New Year’s, and to us, January seemed never-ending! I counted down each day, sometimes hour, anxiously awaiting the arrival of February.
Bill and I began our Sunday with a few relaxing hours of lazy TV, followed by a quiet country drive in unseasonably warm weather. Most Sundays are spent going to church for the morning hours, but instead decided to take advantage of the blessed sunshine we were gifted today. We chose a moderate terrain trail at Lake of the Ozarks to hike and set on our way. It felt amazing to have fresh air filling our lungs, especially after being stuck in the house most of last week with snow and freezing temps!
Upon returning home this evening, we all set to work readying ourselves for the coming first week in the brand-new month of February. It’s a celebratory month for our family, with three of us observing birthdays! Mya turns six this coming Thursday, a fact I am struggling to accept, and Greyson will turn seven the day before my 34th birthday.
Speaking of Sundays, today is a special one to most Americans: Super Bowl! Just not in our house. My husband isn’t a fan, and I much prefer college to professional football as a diehard Oregon Ducks fan. Not once have any of us considered turning it on, Bill even asked when it began, and of course I had no clue. I’ve never really cared much about it to be honest, and marrying a man who doesn’t enjoy the sport either, makes it pretty insignificant in this household. We live in Chiefs land, so our friends and community are rooting for their team, but if we had to choose, we would be rooting for the Niners (sorry Missouri!) because of family’s allegiance. The girls’ Nana and Pop are Niner fans, so by default they would choose them to win.
Are we alone in this? I know we cannot be the only Americans who aren’t overflowing with enthusiasm, huddled around our TV, waiting restlessly for the next commercial, helmet-to-helmet collision, or poorly performing musician lip syncing a mix of their most famous tunes. I’m prepared for the “But it’s tradition!” and “You’re so un-American” comments which will surely follow once I am found out. However, it seems to me there is a bigger issue still failing to be discussed enough regarding the sport.
During the last few weeks of January, I watched a special Netflix aired about Aaron Hernandez, a football player known for playing in Super Bowl XLVI with the New England Patriots. Junior Seau, another former Patriot who had appeared in Super Bowl XLII, was also included in this special. They’d both been made famous for much different, shockingly unexpected, and heartbreaking reasons: they were killers, who both were shown postmortem to have CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease. Hernandez had been not only been found guilty of murder, but went on to join Seau in the afterlife as a victim of suicide as well.
The sport of football is killing people. These men are literally paying to play this sport, with their lives. And Americans are standing by rooting them on while they do so. Hernandez’s life began to end way before his suicide, with legal trouble beginning after a bar fight in college, then progressing to murder. Seau also had legal issues of his own, including an arrest for domestic violence, and suffered from chronic insomnia in the final years of his life. Neither lived a quality of life they deserved and it has been widely theorized this was a result of CTE.
Much research has been done in the days since their deaths, and it can no longer be argued that CTE is not a result of repeated head trauma, which, let’s face it, is a huge feature of American football. Known signs and symptoms caused by CTE include confusion, personality changes, aggressive behavior, depression and suicidal thoughts. So why do we as Americans, still participate in the worship and support of such a damaging activity, especially after learning how its responsible for the decline and loss of such once talented men? It’s something to think about, it’s what I am thinking about on this Super Bowl Sunday.