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Athletes should not be dying to entertain us

May 09, 2012|By Scott Bolohan, For RedEye

When I was a kid, my mom wouldn't let me play hockey. It was one of the biggest regrets of my life. I'm still convinced I could be the next Sidney Crosby but with normal lips.

With Marian Hossa's brutal concussion and the deaths of so many enforcers lately, it's made me look at sports in a new light. I remember as a kid drawing a picture of Bob Probert fighting Todd Gill (no idea why I picked him). And then the news of Junior Seau's suicide struck home again. I had a poster of him from Sports Illustrated for Kids on the wall in my room.

Our heroes should not be dying to entertain us.

Sports are, and it pains me to admit it, just entertainment. The point of football is to smash into someone until they hit the ground. It's innately violent with no way around it. At least now people are beginning to know the risks of playing and starting to see their sad repercussions. For the money and the perks that come with being a professional athlete, I can certainly understand their decision to continue to play at the potential consequence of cutting years off their life.

Although I guess now Junior Seau's mom wishes he didn't.

But it's tough to judge.

The football and hockey mentality is that you play unless you can't stand—just get stitched up and get back in there. The first football game I played in eighth grade I broke my wrist on a reverse. But I stayed in the game, rushed four times and caught a pass. Because it was football, and I didn't want to lose my starting spot or be considered a wimp or words that start with "p" or "g" or "f" (which I'm sure some people are calling me right now). And I'm certain I would have played through a concussion.

Unless there are major changes to the sports, and hopefully by the time I'm a parent there will be, I would be irresponsible to let my kids play them.

As I've come to learn in life, my mom really did know best. No matter how much I wish she didn't. Maybe my kids will understand someday too.

Scott Bolohan is a RedEye special contributor. @scottbolohan

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