Physical Sacrifice, Concussions, And Why It's Okay

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I shouldn't have even had NPR on. They were talking about football, saying how dangerous it is, how much damage it inflicts on the bodies of those that play it. The interviewer even suggested banning it for safety reasons.

I got irrationally angry. Why? I wasn't really sure.

It took me driving all the way home and unloading three shopping bags before I realized what had gotten under my skin so much.

As men in the 21st century, it often feels like we’ve been societally neutered. We live in a world where everything is mind-numbingly safe. From the first time we go down a plastic and tire-shred padded slide on the playground, to the emphasis our culture places on security at the cost of all other freedoms.

We have no hunt. No chance to be mauled by a beast more powerful than ourselves. And no opportunity to conquer it, either.

And now they’re going for that last vestige of manly self-mutilation in America, football. Add more pads. Don’t hit as hard. Take away opportunities for concussions to happen, like kick and punt returns.

Naturally, I’m just as anxious as the next person to avoid personal injury to players. But there’s something beautifully violent about football that needs to be preserved. We need it. Men need football.

Deep down inside, we need to have something in our lives that we might not walk away from. And no rule book is going to be able to eliminate this need. Young men will simply find another way to test their limits. Maybe something a lot more dangerous then getting a broken leg.

Are concussions good? Absolutely not. Is taking a chance on sacrificing your body for something you love, something you’re passionate about a sin? Perhaps not. We’ve only got a limited number of years with this mass of flesh and bones we call “me”, and it’s going to break down on us regardless of how hard we try to baby it. So make it count.

So how does this relate to being a musician? A leader?

We’ve got to live with the kind of recklessness, the kind of passion that can get us carted off the field on a stretcher.

We’ve got to buck the societal trend of playing it safe, and lay ourselves, our emotions and our insecurities on the line, and be willing to get hurt. Until we start taking radical chances, we’re never going to be truly satisfied with our work, with our relationships, and with our accomplishments.