Costas: Football Must Answer Philosophical Question

Football has a unique problem – and a unique question to answer

Tiki and Tierney
November 12, 2018 - 8:21 pm

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Legendary broadcaster Bob Costas dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Monday to discuss numerous topics, including baseball dynasties, concussions, and the future of football.

“There’s a big question (the NFL must answer) – and it’s a philosophical question,” Costas said on Tiki and Tierney. “No matter what the league does – whether it’s out of conscience and honest concern, which I think some of it is, or whether it’s a simple business decision because they know they could be losing some people who are ambivalent about the game – whatever their motivation is, the question is can you ever truly make this kind of contact football safe enough that a considerable percentage of those who play will not suffer some sort of significant brain trauma that they’ll pay for down the line? 

“I don’t know what the answer to that is,” Costas continued. “Because as we all know, it isn’t just diagnosed concussions; it’s all the hundreds, if not thousands, of sub-concussive hits that go by unnoticed but that cumulatively can lead to CTE and often tragic consequences down the road. So this is a big question. It’s a fundamental question that faces the most popular and profitable sport in America. Actually, it’s the most popular thing in all of American entertainment.”

While other sports have problems, football’s problem is unique.

“In theory, you could play baseball without performance-enhancing drugs and without steroids – and they have reduced it to a significant extent,” Costas said. “You can play hockey without fights. We’ll never live to see it, but you can align academics and athletics enough so that much of Division I college sports – at least basketball and football – wouldn’t be a sham. In theory, you can do all that. The fundamental question for football is even in theory, can you play football the way we’ve been accustomed to either playing it or watching it be played, without a sizable percentages of the participants suffering severe consequences?”

Brandon Tierney doesn’t think so.

“I don’t think so, either,” Costas said.