Is American Football Evil?

By COGwriter

Those who know me well, have long known that I do not watch American football, including events like the annual Super Bowl (which is normally the most watched television program in the USA most years). Football may be the most popular spectator sport in the USA.

Is American football an appropriate sport? Is it something that a Christian should watch? Is American football evil? What about boxing and knockout games?

Is there any difference between American football and soccer? If so, what? (There is also a short YouTube video available titled Should Christians watch American football? as well as a longer one titled Christians, Violence, and Military Service.)

Background on Why I Do Not Watch Football

The reasons I do not watch American tackle football go back to my days in high school. My father had played some football in high school, and when I wanted to go out for the freshmen football team at my high school, he would not allow me to do it. He told me that it was too dangerous.

So, I did not go out for the football team (on 'Super Sunday' in 2014, someone falsely reported that I was opposed to football because I tried out and could not make the team--that is false. The only time I went out for a football team was years later, it was a flag football league, and yes, I made the team). Despite his misgivings, my dad was a football fan, and we would sometimes go to the high school football games and sometimes watch college or professional football games on television.

However, as I got a little older, I noticed that a lot of the players on my high school's football team got more and more injuries. They would tend to wrap up their knees and do other things because of injuries they sustained playing football. Well, since I known many of them for quite a few years, and noticed that I did not see the same thing happen to those who instead ran track, played golf, wrestled, played basketball, played baseball (all of which I had done in school), or played flag football (which I did for a very short while in the military, and it does not involve intentionally knocking anyone down), this injury difference seemed significant.

This got me to consider that perhaps playing tackle football was not a good thing.

The Bible's and Herbert W. Armstrong's Position

After doing more and more Bible study, I was baptized as a member of the Church of God and was part of the old Worldwide Church of God (WCG). WCG taught against cut-throat competition and military service (and I was in the military at the time, until my discharge).

I also realized that in the Bible, Jesus taught not to intentionally hurt others, as it taught:

39... 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' (Matthew 22:39, NKJV)

The Apostle Paul also wrote:

29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it (Ephesians 5:29, NKJV)

Also, notice what John the Baptist taught soldiers:

14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. (Luke 3:14, KJV)

I could not reconcile loving my neighbor as myself and cherishing my flesh and not doing violence to any man by watching others do it in a football game. Nor the following:

9...You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:9-10, NKJV)

Regular American football (and many other sports) intentionally inflict bodily harm. That is evil, not love. Can anyone rationally argue that American tackle football does not harm? Is it not truly violent?

Notice the following warning:

23 'Make a chain,
For the land is filled with crimes of blood,
And the city is full of violence.
24 Therefore I will bring the worst of the Gentiles,
And they will possess their houses;
I will cause the pomp of the strong to cease,
And their holy places shall be defiled.  (Ezekiel 7:23-24)

American cities are full of football-related violence during football season. And those who allow boxing are certainly having crimes of blood being committed (as do though with various other violent fighting sports).

Since American football intentionally inflicts various hurts, the following scripture supports the idea that it will not be allowed in the Millennium:

9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9, NKJV)

Notice what the late Herbert W. Armstrong (of the old WCG) wrote:

All Sports Not Wrong

Competition and not cooperation, is the attitude which Satan inculcates human minds. But that does not mean that all sports are wrong or to be banned. The law of God is based on the way of righteousness...The basic law is love, out flowing toward God above all else, and secondarily, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

To harm the other fellow and to gain by doing so for self is a kind of competition that is wrong. Hostility toward the other is sin...

At golf the one who wins is not the one gets the most by taking it away from the other...So golf is not a wrong competition--nor is any race at a distance, or hurdle race, or long jump, high jump, pole vault or other field competition in a track and field meet...

Boxing at Ambassador College is definitely banned. God did not create the human brain and head to be pummeled and knocked senseless by an antagonist.

Wherever a game in sports involves antagonists--in hostile attitude to harm the other and/or to "get" from the other--to get the best of the other then a harmful, satanic and evil attitude enters in, and the sport is evil, not good...

Football (American football) is a violent body-contact sport. It is often played with an attitude of hostility and is dangerous and is fraught with with physical injury. Therefore it is not played, but we do play American flag football, at Ambassador College. (Armstrong HW. An Overview from Higher Up. Plain Truth, July-August 1984, pp. 3-4)

Truly , COMPETITION, not cooperation is the attitude Satan innoculates into human minds...To HARM the other fellow, and to gain by so doing for SELF, is a kind of competition that is wrong. Hostility toward the other is sin...

Behind my back when I was away from Pasadena all but about 60 days in a year , others without my knowledge or consent got Ambassador into intercollegiate competition. THE RESULTS WERE BAD! That is OFFICIALLY
BANNED from now on...

Boxing is definitely BANNED. God did not design and create the human brain and head to be pummeled and knocked senseless by an antagonist.

Wherever a game in sports involves ANTAGONISTS--in HOSTILE ATTITUDE to harm the other and/or to "GET" from the other--to get the best of the other--then a harmful, Satanic and evil attitude enters in , and the sport is EVIL, not good...

football , (American football)...because football is such a violent body contact sport , it TOO OFTEN is played in an ATTITUDE OF HOSTILITY, and is too DANGEROUS and fraught with PHYSICAL INJURY . Therefore it must be BANNED so far as participation by God's Church or people is concerned...This is sufficient to illustrate the application of the PRINCIPLE of God's Law to sports. That participated in with an attitude of HOSTILITY toward the opponent is evil. That which HARMS mentally or physically an opponent is evil.

Satan is the author of COMPETITION based on hostility, harm to the opponent, GETTING by taking FROM an opponent--to his harm or loss. God's way is LOVE TOWARD neighbor equal to love of self. (Armstrong HW. Not all sports are banned. Pastor General's Report, Volume 2, Issue 36, September 5, 1980)

Sometimes there is a fine line between what is within and what is outside God's law.

Football (American football) is a violent body-contact sport. It too often is played in an attitude of hostility and is dangerous and fraught with physical injury. Therefore it is not played, but we do play American flag football at Ambassador.

Soccer does not embody the same evils. Baseball, softball, volleyball, while competitive, do not necessarily involve hostility, harm to others or trying to prevent the opponent from doing his best. When played in God's attitude toward others these are acceptable and not prohibited. (Armstrong HW. An Overview from Higher Up. Plain Truth, July-August 1984)

In the late 1980s, I once gave a speech at the old WCG Spokesman's Club opposing football and watching the then upcoming Super Bowl game. Sadly, it was not well received.

While some who claim to be Philadelphia Christians try to justify watching American football, they should realize that the comments by Herbert Armstrong were made mainly in response to how he saw supposed Christians playing and viewing sports that, of themselve, he did not oppose. He then took his criticisms of competitive sports to the next level, and did not just condemn the improper competitive attitudes of sports participants/fans, but the violent sports themselves.

The COG in the 21st century that has come out with perhaps the clearest statements condemning American tackle football is the Continuing Church of God. Most others, with a USA presence, either directly or indirectly endorse it or will not condemn it (could cost them supporters and donors). Since 'Philadelphia' means 'love of one's brother,' should not real Philadelphian Christians condemn truly violent acts against others?

Jesus also said:

20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God. (John 3:20-21, NKJV).

Is watching American football a deed that would be pleasing to God?

The Apostle Paul wrote:

12... they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.(2 Thessalonians 2:12)

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:28-32, NKJV)

Is not football violent and often unmerciful?

So, if playing football is evil, should Christians approve of it?

Additionally, twice the New Testament refers to the good news message as "the gospel of peace":

"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!" (Romans 10:15)

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; (Ephesians 6:14-15)

Is not taking a stand against encouraging sports violence consistent with the gospel of peace and love? Or should ministers tell people that violent sports like American tackle football are not "inherently evil" as at least one minister has done?

What About Soccer or Football as Most Countries Call it?

Now, I almost never watch soccer (which most people around the world call football). Not because of any moral reason, but because I do not consider it an interesting enough use of my time. But there are major differences between it and American football. The main one probably being that when American tackle football is played according to all its rules, it results in people being harmed--and that is not good.

Here is what Herbert W. Armstrong wrote about soccer in contrast to American football:

Football (American football) is a violent body-contact sport. It is often played with an attitude of hostility and is dangerous and is fraught with with physical injury...

Soccer does not embody the same evils. Baseball, softball, volleyball, while competitive, do not necessarily involve hostility, harm to others or trying to prevent the opponent from doing his best. When played in God's attitude towards others these are acceptable and not prohibited. Satan is the author of competition based upon hostility, harm to the opponent, getting by taking from an opponent--to his harm or loss...

The very name Satan means "adversary." Satan is an evil adversary, who desires to harm, who has a spirit of hostility. (Armstrong HW. An Overview from Higher Up. Plain Truth, July-August 1984, p. 4)

And yes, some people do sin watching and/or playing soccer. But soccer, unlike American football, does not have to be played in a hostile manner that is evil.

American football always involves physical (and normally also mental) hostility.

Would Early Professors of Christ Approve of American Football?

Perhaps it should be mentioned that the Bible itself indicates that track and field events are not of themselves wrong. The Apostle Paul seemed to endorse running, for example:

24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25, NKJV)

But there were other sports activities that the public watched in Paul's day.

Were they viewed by those that professed Christ?

While we do not seem to have many direct references from those in the Church of God, we do have some written records of those who were at least somewhat familiar with the teachings of Jesus and the practices of the earliest Christians.

Now, here is something from Theophilus of Antioch (who probably was part of the Church of God) perhaps written about 180 A.D.:

Consider, therefore, whether those who teach such things can possibly live indifferently, and be commingled in unlawful intercourse, or, most impious of all, eat human flesh, especially when we are forbidden so much as to witness shows of gladiators, lest we become partakers and abettors of murders. But neither may we see the other spectacles, lest our eyes and ears be defiled, participating in the utterances there sung. (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book III, Chapter XV. Translated by Marcus Dods, A.M. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition)

So, true Christians did not believe that they were to watch the violent sports so popular in the second century.

Tatian, a professing Christian apologist, wrote around 170 A.D.:

And for these the witnesses take their seats, and the boxers meet in single combat, for no reason whatever, nor does any one come down into the arena to succour. Do such exhibitions as these redound to your credit? He who is chief among you collects a legion of blood-stained murderers, engaging to maintain them; and these ruffians are sent forth by him, and you assemble at the spectacle to be judges, partly of the wickedness of the adjudicator, and partly of that of the men who engage in the combat. And he who misses the murderous exhibition is grieved, because he was not doomed to be a spectator of wicked and impious and abominable deeds (Tatian. Translated by J.E. Ryland. Tatian's Address to the Greeks, Chapter XXIII . Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Athenagoras, a professing Christian apologist, wrote around 170 A.D.:

What man of sound mind, therefore, will affirm, while such is our character, that we are murderers?...

Who does not reckon among the things of greatest interest the contests of gladiators and wild beasts, especially those which are given by you? But we, deeming that to see a man put to death is much the same as killing him, have abjured such spectacles (Athenagoras. A Plea for the Christians, Chapter XXXV. Translated by B.P. Pratten. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Even today, many Christians realize that watching brutal events intent on causing physical harm, such as real boxing, is inappropriate.

Notice that this was also the position of the third century Catholic theologian and bishop Hippolytus, who also adds various occupations to those that reject one from being a follower of Christ:

16:6 A charioteer, likewise, or one who takes part in the games, or one who  goes to the games, he shall cease or he shall be rejected. 7 If someone is a gladiator, or one  who teaches those among the gladiators how to fight, or a hunter who is in the wild beast  shows in the arena, or a public official who is concerned with gladiator shows, either he  shall cease, or he shall be rejected. 8 If someone is a priest of idols, or an attendant of idols,  he shall cease or he shall be rejected. 9 A military man in authority must not execute men. If  he is ordered, he must not carry it out. Nor must he take military oath. If he refuses, he shall  be rejected. 10 If someone is a military governor, or the ruler of a city who wears the purple,  he shall cease or he shall be rejected. 11 The catechumen or faithful who wants to become a  soldier is to be rejected, for he has despised God. (Hippolytus. The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus of Rome. From the work of Bernard Botte (La Tradition Apostolique. Sources Chretiennes, 11 bis. Paris, Editions du Cerf, 1984) and of Gregory Dix (The Treatise on the Apostolic Tradition of St. Hippolytus of Rome, Bishop and Martyr. London: Alban Press, 1992) as translated by Kevin P. Edgecomb http://www.bombaxo.com/hippolytus.html viewed 08/06/09)

Damaging 'Fruits' of American Football

Jesus taught:

16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:16-20, NKJV)

So, what kind of fruits are involved with American football?

While some will claim football is fun for the viewers and enriches the players, is that really how American football should be judged?

Idolaters, adulterers, and prostitutes (only those who are not forced into it) probably feel the same way.

Notice what some suggest are some of the fruits of professional football:

According to the folks at TMZ, 75 former NFL players have sued the league for concealing the risks of concussions.  The plaintiffs include former Dolphins receiver Mark Duper (pictured), former Giants and Cardinals running back Ottis Anderson, and former Giants running back Rodney Hampton.  Helmet manufacturer Riddell also is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, which was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The challenge for the plaintiffs will be to prove that the NFL actually knew, or reasonably should have known, the chronic, long-term risks of concussions.  Clear links between concussions and long-term health problems have been established only recently, and the league has responded fairly aggressively (especially after a shot across the bow from Congress) to the problem. (Florio M. Report: NFL sued for concealing brain injury risks. NBC Sports, July 19, 2011. http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/07/19/report-nfl-sued-for-concealing-brain-injury-risks/)

Before the former American football player Dave Duerson killed himself, he asked that his brain be left to researchers studying head injuries among athletes. What it revealed shocked the scientists... The lapses in memory, the mood swings, the piercing headaches on the left side of his head, the difficulty spelling simple words, the blurred eyesight. And hanging over it all was his fear that both his material and physical decline might not be coincidental, that they might have been caused by injuries to his brain suffered playing the game he loved so much – football...

McKee takes a deep look at the cross-section of this brain and momentarily appears sad. "This is a brain at the end-stage of disease," she says. "I would assume that with this amount of damage the person was very cognitively impaired. I would assume they were demented, had substantial problems with their speech and gait, that this person was Parkinsonian, was slow to speak and walk, if he could walk at all." (Pilkington E. The NFL star and the brain injuries that destroyed him. The Guardian, July 19, 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/jul/19/nfl-star-brain-injuries-destroyed)

The evidence about the dangers of concussions is mounting and far greater then whatever was known when the old school guys played. Moreover, damage to joints and other body parts that can cripple and maim continues to haunt the game. (Igel L. What's Unsettled About The NFL Concussions Settlement. Forbes, August 30, 2013. http://www.forbes.com/sites/leeigel/2013/08/30/whats-unsettled-about-the-nfl-concussions-settlement/)

Now how widespread brain damage from playing football is can be debated (and probably will be). But everyone has to know that crashing into other human beings in order to knock them down and/or stop them from running or throwing is not harmless.

And it is not just professional American football:

According to a September 2007 New York Times article, “At least 50 high school or younger football players in more than 20 states since 1997 have been killed or have sustained serious head injuries on the field.” ...Not all injuries on the football field are as serious as life or death, but all injuries have the potential of leaving lasting effects on the players. Some of the most common football injuries affect the following areas: cervical spine, neck, knee, shoulder, and head. Broken noses, black eyes, broken teeth, sprains, and broken bones are also incredibly common. (Naczelnik S. The Dangers of Letting Your Kids Play Football. http://stacienaczelnik.hubpages.com/hub/The-Dangers-of-Letting-Your-Kids-Play-Football viewed 08/04/11)

What's wrong with football? It's written in the pain on Greg Hadley's face. The senior from Colgate University, a two-time all-conference linebacker on the school's football team, is sitting in a Bedford, Mass., laboratory, staring at shattered brains of dead football players. On this Friday afternoon, Hadley has come to visit Dr. Ann McKee, a Boston University neurological researcher who has received a dozen brains donated from former NFL, college and high school players. In each one, it's simple to spot a protein called tau, which defines a debilitating disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Common symptoms of CTE include sudden memory loss, paranoia and depression during middle age. The disease is also known as dementia pugilistica, or punch-drunk syndrome, because until recently the overwhelming majority of its victims were boxers. Not anymore. Researchers like McKee have found a deep and disturbing association between CTE and America's most popular sport. (Gregory S. The Problem with Football: How to Make It Safer. Time, January 28, 2010. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1957459,00.html#ixzz1U5jGMrI2)

CNN (01/29/2012) had a report that the average American high school football player received 650 sub-concussion hits per season which increased risk for brain damage of various types.

In 2013, US President Barack Obama made some statements of interest:

WASHINGTON Football's first fan isn't sure he'd let his son play the game, in light of the impact it takes on its players.

"I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you, if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football," President Barack Obama tells The New Republic.

"And I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence," Mr. Obama said. (Obama not sure he'd let son play football. CBS, January 27, 2013. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-400_162-57566044/obama-not-sure-hed-let-son-play-football/)

Barack Obama is being a bit hypocritical here.  However, unlike many others, at least he is basically admitting it.  He likes watching the sport, yet understands that it is harmful.  And so harmful that he would not want any male offspring who he could have had to play it.

Some others believe that enough improvements have been made in the past few years to make the sport safe. But that simply is not true. It is like saying that filtered cigarrettes are better, so not hazardous to health. That is the reality of football. Also notice something from the New York Times, the Washington Post, and NPR about this:

Former players have filed class-action lawsuits against the league, claiming they suffer permanent brain damage as a result of concussions sustained while playing football. Stories recounting the lifelong toll of football injuries are common...Thanks to rule changes aimed at lessening the chances of career-ending injuries, football is a tad less dangerous than it once was. But it is still a game whose appeal lies in its violent nature. You cannot play football at the professional level without having it affect — and quite possibly shorten — the rest of your life. (Nocera J. The Cost of Football Glory. New York Times, February 3, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/04/opinion/nocera-the-cost-of-football-glory.html?_r=1)

The most popular sport in America causes irreparable harm to many of its participants, some of whom will stammer through sentences after they retire, lose their memories and have their dinners served to them through intravenous needles...If they’re modern-day gladiators, we’re little more than howling, new-millennium Romans — with better-stitched togas and viewing angles. Now armed with more information than ever about football and brain injuries, we think long and hard whether our kids should strap on a helmet and pads. (Wise M. Super Bowl: NFL confronts the highest stakes. Washington Post, January 28, 2013. http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/redskins/super-bowl-nfl-confronts-the-highest-stakes/2013/01/28/b92e1fd8-69a0-11e2-95b3-272d604a10a3_story.html)

Stop Ignoring Head Trauma: Turn Off The Super Bowl

The grim headlines just keep coming..former NFL kicker Tom Dempsey. Age 66, Dempsey suffers from dementia. During his football career he endured three diagnosed concussions and, almost certainly, several undiagnosed ones. As The New York Times notes, his neurologist was "astonished by the amount of damage" visible on Dempsey's brain scans.

Earlier this month researchers announced that the brain of Junior Seau, the former NFL linebacker who committed suicide last spring, showed signs of the kind of neurodegenerative disease associated with repetitive head trauma. A causal link between the type of skull-jarring hits that professional football players experience and long-term degenerative brain disease, including dementia, is no longer in serious question (see this technical report from the scientific journal Brain and this blog post about traumatic brain injury in women).

As NPR reports, more than 3,800 football players have by now sued the NFL over their head injuries. That's a staggering number.  (King B.  Stop Ignoring Head Trauma: Turn Off The Super Bowl. NPR, January 31, 2013. http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2013/01/31/170474149/stop-ignoring-head-trauma-turn-off-the-super-bowl)

Health experts have some bad news for high school football players: There is no particular type or brand of helmet or mouth guard that will keep you relatively safe from a concussion...

The researchers noted that their findings were “contrary to manufacturer claims” that specific equipment could protect football players from concussions, which occur approximately 40,000 times per year among high school players in the U.S...

Study leader Dr. Margaret Alison Brooks, an assistant professor in the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, said the report should make players think twice about the assertions made by equipment companies.

“Despite what manufacturers might claim, newer and more expensive equipment may not reduce concussion risk,” she said in a statement. (Kaplan K. Study: No helmet brand can save football players from concussion risk. Los Angeles Times, October 28, 2013. http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-concussion-high-school-football-helmet-mouthguards-20131028,0,7936827.story#axzz2j7NLDkB0)

Notice also:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2013/12/11/craig-morton-lawsuit-concussions/3988317/

Craig Morton sues NFL for failing to protect players from head injuries

Attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against the NFL on Tuesday alleging longtime quarterback Craig Morton and other former players suffered long-term effects from repeated head injuries because the league failed to protect them.

The 84-page lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in northern California, claims the league had access to medical research on the impact of concussive and sub-concussive hits but "produced industry-funded, biased, and falsified research" that said otherwise.

The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for Morton, 70, who played 18 NFL seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and Denver Broncos from 1965 to 1982.

There is a lot of bad fruit associated with American football. In most "plays," the defense attempts to physically knock down someone else. The physical impact of getting knocked down is not healthy. And getting hit/knocked down harder is less even less healthy--physically for the one getting knocked down and spiritually for the one that does the physical harm.

Notice also the following:

Football is dangerous, but we can’t let it go

August 26, 2013…

It would be wonderful if we could make the game safer, but there is far too much satisfaction as a player, owner, coach and consumer to quit. And there is no substitute “patch” for American football.

We are all too selfish to stop.

We now know, or highly suspect, that former players such as Dave Duerson and Junior Seau killed themselves due somewhat to the problems related to the brain trauma suffered in their long careers. We care, but not enough to stop.

We know there are many people who played and do not suffer the ill effects of the game.

You can disagree on the origins or the severity, but what is indisputable is that there is a far greater risk in playing football than we have ever been previously aware…The concussion issue in football is not only genuine, but it is never going away. Studies, and prevailing common sense, say that if you run into something continually at a high speed, eventually your body, and brain, will suffer as a result. http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/08/26/5110575/football-is-dangerous-but-we-cant.html#storylink=cpy

Are you among the selfish that advocates this sport?  Can you let it go or do you prefer to watch it knowing that it is harming those who are “entertaining” you?

Notice also the following:

September 3, 2014

The NFL reported 228 cases of diagnosed concussions in the 2013 season. Research has revealed prolonged head injuries suffered playing football have lead to dementia, cognitive decline, ALS and Parkinson's among its players. http://keranews.org/post/study-think-football-brain-health-and-ethical-uncertainty

Football Players At All Levels At Concussion Risk

September 3, 2014

Concussions and traumatic brain injury don’t just affect former NFL players, they strike high school players and college players as well. ...

More than a dozen former NFL players have filed concussion injury lawsuits against the NFLPA.  These players claim the Players Association was aware of concussion dangers for decades, but ignored and hid the risks from players.

According to the Complaints filed against the NFLPA, the players association “had unparalleled access to and knowledge of data relating to the relationship between head impacts on football players and cognitive decline.  This access to and knowledge of data [came] from the NFLPA’s awareness of the growing body of scientific literature on the subject, its own medical consultants, its own requested and commissioned studies on the subject, its participation in the Retirement Board of the Bert Bell/Peter Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan (“Retirement Plan”), and its participation in the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee (the “MTBI Committee”).”

The claims brought against the NFLPA are different from those alleged against the NFL itself in other litigation.  Players with claims against the NFL are not precluded from bringing claims against the NFLPA and may participate in both cases. ...

Florio, writing for NBC Sports, went on to note that “ammunition for attacking the NFLPA has existed from the moment the notion of suing over concussions first gained traction….  Indeed, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith admitted during testimony to Congress in 2009 that the union had a role in alleged resistance to efforts of doctors and others to wake football up to the perils of head injuries.”

“Sadly, the players association knew for years about the medical science behind the dangers of the game, and in spite of their promises to do what was in the best interest of their members, they joined the league in hiding those dangers from everyone.  These former pro players should be proud of themselves for stepping up, because they’re standing up and saying that they would have behaved differently if the players association hadn’t been complicit with the league in hiding their full knowledge from them. If this action through the court system would have been available to me when I was just out of the league, I would have been alongside them as part of the lawsuit.”

- Jim Kearney, starting safety for the Super Bowl IV Champion Kansas City Chiefs

http://www.legalexaminer.com/head-brain-injuries/football-players-at-all-levels-at-concussion-risk/

Notice also:

'Brain changes' seen in young American footballers

Some teenagers appear to show changes in their brains after one season of playing American football, a small study suggests.

Even though players were not concussed during the season, researchers found abnormalities similar to the effects of mild traumatic brain injury.

Twenty-four players aged between 16 and 18 were studied and devices on their helmets measured head impacts.

The study was presented to the Radiological Society of North America.

In recent years, a number of reports have expressed concern about the potential effects on young, developing brains of playing contact sports.

These studies have tended to focus on brain changes as a result of concussion.

But this study focused on the effects of head impacts on the brain, even when players did not suffer concussion at any point during the season.

Using detailed scans of the players' brains before the season began and then again after it ended, the researchers were able to identify slight changes to the white matter of the brain.

White matter contains millions of nerve fibres which act as communication cables between the brain's regions.

Those players who were hit harder and hit more often were more likely to show these changes in post-season brain scans.

Brain movement

Dr Alex Powers, co-author and paediatric neurosurgeon at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre in North Carolina, said the changes were a direct result of the hits received by the young players during their football season.

"American football is a direct contact sport. The object is to bring people down.

"When players are hit, the brain moves violently within the skull. The harder the hit is, the more the brain is going to move." http://www.bbc.com/news/health-30248886

Notitce also the following:

Research conducted on almost 100 deceased NFL players revealed that over 95 percent of them tested positive for the degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

September 18, 2015

Research conducted on almost 100 deceased NFL players revealed that over 95 percent of them tested positive for the degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

In a study published by Frontline on Friday, a total of 87 out of 91 players were found to have the disease. The CTE research was carried out by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University.

The chief of neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System, Dr. Ann McKee, told Frontline that CTE is a "very real disease."

"People think that we're blowing this out of proportion, that this is a very rare disease and that we're sensationalizing it," McKee said. "My response is that where I sit, this is a very real disease. We have had no problem identifying it in hundreds of players."

Although research had suggested that concussions were one of the likely causes of CTE, new evidence suggests that "minor head trauma that occurs regularly in football may pose" a greater risk than the occasional violent collision. http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/eye-on-football/25307746/study-956-percent-of-deceased-nfl-players-tested-positive-for-cte

January 29, 2016

The NFL says reported concussions rose 58 percent in regular-season games to the highest number in any of the past four years. ...

According to the NFL, there were 182 reported concussions from 2015 regular-season games, reversing a recent downward trend. There were 115 in 2014, 148 in 2013, and 173 in 2012.

A year ago, the league touted those decreases as a reflection of players changing the way they play.

Researchers have been studying an Alzheimer's-like disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, that appears to be linked to repeated head injuries and concussions. In September, doctors said they found evidence of CTE in 87 out of 91 former NFL players who had donated their brains to science after they died.

The degenerative disease is largely believed to stem from repeated head trauma. It can lead to memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression and, eventually, progressive dementia.

Additionally, they found that CTE has been identified in the brain tissue of a total of 131 out of 165 individuals who played football either professionally, semi-professionally, in college or in high school before their deaths. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/nfl-says-concussions-were-way-up-in-2015/

It took a while, but finally even the NFL admitted some of the truth:

March 15, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) -- An NFL official has acknowledged a link between football and the brain disease CTE for the first time.

Jeff Miller, the NFL's senior vice president for health and safety, spoke about the connection during an appearance Monday at a congressional committee's roundtable discussion about concussions.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) asked Miller: "Do you think there is a link between football and degenerative brain disorders like CTE?"

Miller began by referencing the work of Boston University neuropathologist Dr. Ann McKee, who has found CTE in the brains of 90 former pro football players.

"Well, certainly, Dr. McKee's research shows that a number of retired NFL players were diagnosed with CTE, so the answer to that question is certainly 'yes,' but there are also a number of questions that come with that," Miller said.

Schakowsky repeated the question: "Is there a link?"

"Yes. Sure," Miller responded.

The NFL had not previously linked playing football to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease linked to repeated brain trauma and associated with symptoms such as memory loss, depression and progressive dementia. It can only be detected after death. Among the players found to have CTE in their brains were Hall of Famers Junior Seau and Ken Stabler. http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/F/FBN_NFL_CTE?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2016-03-15-06-58-33

There is NO DOUBT among those interested in the truth that American tackle football is violent and causes harm to the players--much of which is permanent.

The often immodest appearance of professional football female cheerleaders is also inappropriate, and not a Christian fruit (1 Timothy 2:9).

The Bible teaches:

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

How many who are in the COGs love the worldly sport of American tackle football and really do not care that it causes irreparable harm to its participants? Is not another reason that some they watch it because of their lust for violence and/or for social acceptance? This is not of God.

Most violent sports advocates do not seem to realize that they are being influenced by the devil who is the prince of the power of the air:

1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10)

Why would anyone feel that God Himself would condone encouraging violent sports as the type of 'good works' Christians should be involved in?

The rules of the game, as well as how it actually is played, result in violating one of the "seven laws of radiant health," which is "Avoid Bodily Injury" (Meredith R.C. Seven Laws of Radiant Health. @1955, 1973 Ambassador College).

Christians should not encourage others to put themselves in harm's way.

Violent Entertainment is Not For Christians

Apparently not satisfied with the modern gladiatorial games of boxing, ‘ultimate fighting,’ and American football, various ones are gaining ‘entertainment’ from watching  people come up and punch strangers in an attempt to knock them unconscious with one punch.

Here is some information about this:

A knockout game is a deadly trend today among the nation’s teens resulting in deaths and numerous serious injuries. According to “Fox and Friends” live on Wednesday morning Nov. 20, 15 states are reporting knockout incidents with deaths resulting from these knockout punches reported in Syracuse, N.Y., St. Louis, Mo. and Hoboken, N.J., reports the IB Times.

This deadly game leaves no one of any age off limits. The object of this game is to knockout a pedestrian, who is a stranger, with one punch. People just walking down the street are getting sucker punched with the punches seemingly coming out of nowhere.

There is no warning, the people who have been victims of this deadly game were just randomly picked. The object is to land a “one hitter quitter,” which boils down to one punch knocking the unsuspecting victim unconscious.

Some of the incidents have been videotaped and have shown up online.  http://www.examiner.com/article/knockout-game-teens-punch-random-strangers-to-knock-them-out-some-cases-deadly

Some have been killed by knockout games. Though not nearly as many that have been maimed by American football.

In ancient Rome, in the gladiatorial games held in the Coliseum, there were professional gladiator contests, but also sometimes Christians and others who were not professional fighters would face beasts or other enemies to ‘entertain’ the masses.

How anyone should feel that they should be entertained by watching human beings being intentionally injured is outrageous.  And it is even more outrageous to watch unsuspecting people get harmed.

On November 21, 2013, I heard a radio commentator mention that he felt ‘knockout games’ demonstrate that the USA has lost nearly all its morals.  And while most Americans do not watch ‘knockout games,’ most do seemingly enjoy watching one or more violent sports, like American football and/or boxing.

Do the people who watch this type of savagery wish to be hurt themselves like happens to the participants? Consider that "the hope of the hypocrite shall perish" (Job 8:13; cf. Romans 13:9-10).

Notice comments from two COG ministers:

If our leisure is spent watching, reading about, or "playing" fighting, war or murder, then are we focused on "turning the other cheek"? If our pleasure is to dwell on bloodshed or violence, if we want to "get inside the mind of the killer" as one popular television show promotes, then are we aligning our minds with God, or with Satan who was a "murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44)?

No Christian can deny the Bible's condemnation of hatred, which is the spirit of murder. Those who immerse themselves in media violence are being flooded with that ungodly spirit.

Some will attempt to justify violent entertainment as simply an enjoyable pastime. Do they consider the sobering warning of Isaiah 33:15, where God describes the person He will protect in times of danger: "He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, he who despises the gain of oppressions, who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil." (Ciesielka W. Violence. LCG Commentary. http://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/violence)

One unique aspect of our modern society is its proliferation of violent entertainment. Of course, other societies have reveled in violent amusements, as did the ancient Romans in their Coliseum. However, such entertainment is now widely available, in many more forms, than ever before.

Sociologists have estimated that by the time the average U.S. child starts elementary school, he or she will have seen 8,000 murders and 100,000 acts of violence on television...As long as people fail to control their selfish desires, violence will continue. Anyone can break this pattern, but first there must be a change on the inside. (Sena P. Break the Pattern of Violence! Tomorrow's World magazine. Mar-Apr 2008)

Since I do not actually watch American football, I do not know how many violent acts are in a typical game, but the number probably is between several dozen and several hundred, maybe even a lot more if thoughts of violence are included (cf. Matthew 5:21-22). Unlike movies, American tackle football features actual violence where people actually (and sometimes permanently) get harmed.

Christians may wish to ponder the following end time prophecy:

7 Will not your creditors rise up suddenly?
Will they not awaken who oppress you?
And you will become their booty.
8 Because you have plundered many nations,
All the remnant of the people shall plunder you,
Because of men’s blood
And the violence of the land and the city,
And of all who dwell in it.  (Habakkuk 2:7-8)

The USA is the most indebted nation of all time, and notice that not only will creditors rise up against an indebted nation, one of the reasons that God is allowing this is because of violence in the land. And while violence certainly includes crime, military missions, and perhaps even rioting, are not violent forms of "entertainment" such as violent sports "violence of the land"?

Since the Bible teaches, "Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins" (Isaiah 58:1), should that not include violent sports like American football?

Sadly, many who are affiliated with Christianity do not wish to believe that they themselves can have any part in a variety of national sins. And few churches will boldly direct condemnation of the sport of American football as they believe this would reduce their membership and related income.

Concluding Thoughts on American Football

American tackle football is violent.

American tackle football is hostile.

American tackle football causing undeniable physical harm to the participants.

American tackle football results in intentional injuries as well as permanent brain damaging ones. Playing, or encouraging the playing of, American tackle football does not show love toward neighbor.

Unlike stories of violence in books or movies, American football involves actual violence and often physical injury--including brain damaging ones that are often not obvious for years.

I have been opposed to American tackle football since before it was politically-correct to voice that. Statistics, sadly, have validated my opposition,

The Bible forbids harming others or encouraging sin. Early professors of Christ would not watch violent games as they felt that watching was encouraging and participating in sin. Herbert W. Armstrong categorized American football as evil.

You may be telling yourself, well since my church does not (presuming you do not support a group like the Continuing Church of God which does) condemn football (and/or possibly encourages it) the Bible really does not apply here.  If so, be careful about accepting that that type of tradition. Jesus Himself taught:

7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:

8 "These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
9 And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.  (Matthew 15:7-9)

14 "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,

'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked — 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:14-19)

I do not watch American football. I consider that it is evil (also, no Christian can really defend how professional football cheerleading females are often publicly dressed and displayed). Others want to falsely act like there is nothing wrong with watching it.

I was asked about where to draw the line about sports violence, or how can one determine if a sport is appropriate? Christians should consider that if the INTENT of the sport, if played according to the rules, is to inflict violent physical contact that can reasonably be expected to cause bodily harm, then the sport is evil. It is Satanic to encourage such behavior.

Some may not wish to hear about any of the evils of violent sports, and instead prefer smooth things, but hopefully I have tried to follow the Apostle Paul who declared:

26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. (Acts 20:26-27)

The bodies and blood of those who engage in violent sports is important.

Yet, of the multitude of groups that profess Christ, it appears that only an actual or relative handful or so will tell their members that they should not be fans of American tackle football.  Sometimes they will not denounce it because their leaders are fans, sometimes because they are afraid that they might lose members and/or money, and sometimes because of all of those reasons.

Would Jesus want you to be an American football fan?  What about the Apostle Paul who warned against approving violence?  The same Apostle Paul who said to imitate him as he imitated Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).  Would Jesus or the Apostle Paul watch the Superbowl as football fans rooting for one team to crush the other team?

Perhaps, some might say. And some may ridicule and/or dismiss what I have written.

If Jesus Himself did watch the Superbowl, would He watch it and hope that one team would tackle and crash into members of the other team? Or might He watch it, if He did, so He could make social commentary against the violence and/or distorted priorities of the land?

So, regarding American football, do you really believe that Jesus or the Apostle Paul would endorse it? This is something that Christians, and those that claim to be, should think and pray about.

Those Laodiceans who are fans of American tackle football are NOT Philadelphians and will be subject to violence themselves as they will have to go through the Great Tribulation if they do not repent (Revelation 3:14-22).

There is also a short YouTube video available titled Should Christians watch American football? as well as a longer one titled Christians, Violence, and Military Service.

As this article mentions, the COG in the 21st century that has come out with perhaps the clearest statements condemning American tackle football is the Continuing Church of God. To learn more about the Continuing Church of God, please visit its official website which is www.ccog.org

Thiel B. Is American Football Evil? http://www.cogwriter.com/is-football-evil-christian.htm (c) 2011/2012/2013/2014/2015/2016 0315

Back to home page