President Obama’s War on Football

In an interview with The New Republic, that will appear in the February 11th issue, President Obama said he would have to ponder long and hard about whether or not to allow his hypothetical son to play American football, citing the violence inherent in the sport and a recent string of medical studies saying the repetitive hits and unknown concussions caused by the hard-tackling men in pads and helmets are causing long-term mental damage.

Football players at every level make a choice to participate in the sport. They know that their bones, joints, and vital organs are on the line for every practice, play, and quarter they join in.  For many of the young men who play in college and the National Football League, football is a way out of poverty; it is a marketable skill that has the potential to make them millions of dollars in a very short amount of time.

Fundamentally, Mr. Obama, had he a son, would have every right to discourage, and even forbid, his would-be son from playing football if he believed it to be to his long-term disadvantage.

I just wish he would take the same precaution when he declares or escalates unjust wars.

While President Obama doesn’t have the authority to tell anyone else’s son whether or not they can play football, he does have the Constitutional power to send young men and women, into the face of something much more dangerous than football. The president has been sending soldiers into harm’s way for over four years now: Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, and, well, I’ve lost count by now…

Mr. President, would it cause you more hesitation if it was a son or nephew of yours going into a warzone created by your own influence? Would you forestall action if it was one of your beautiful daughters whose hands were guiding the drones that kill the innocent children of others?

Granted, men and women today join the military voluntarily—just like football players volunteer for their sport. And similarly to football and other sports, military service is used by many as a way out of destitution, a way to gain a free education and an expertise for future employment.

However, we cannot forget that there are two sides of war and that many of those who are being killed in no way volunteered, and in no way do they reap any benefits. While President Obama hems and haws over whether his hypothetical son will play football, many of the people his drones kill did not volunteer at all to die.

The Commander in Chief of our military should switch his concern and political sway to exercising the power he actually does have, save the lives and well-being of the young men and women he can affect, and save the lives of people who he has not killed yet.