Over Labor Day weekend my dad and I went to see the movie Resurrecting the Champ staring Josh Hartnet and Samuel L. Jackson. In the Movie Jackson stars as an old homeless boxer, “Battalin Bob Satterfield”, who lives off the streets, getting beat up by kids, and frowned on by society. Watching the movie made me think, too many times the athletes of yesterday are forgotten today. In boxing one too many punches leaves an old boxer with brain damage, in the National Football League retired players are left without benefits as their bodies finally feel the pain of every hit from there career, and these issues are well known but often over looked by the public.
The average professional boxer’s career usually lasts four to five years. Four years of pounding to every part of their body. These are the athletes that are most important to the sport. Without average boxers the big names like Mohammed Ali and Mike Tyson wouldn’t have any one to showcase their skills on. Everybody loves seeing the knockout, but many don’t realize how much brain damage boxers take. Three out of every four boxers that have more than 20 fights get lasting brain damage.
After their careers are over boxing doesn’t take care of its own. There are thousands of ex-boxers in the world and boxing has not made an effort to put together a fund, an organization, or even supply health care to those who suffered to entertain the masses. It’s sickening to think that once well-standing physically fit athletes are now deteriorating with no help. There has not even been a study on the long-term effects professional boxing. Which leaves me to believe there is no plan to save them. How can boxing continue to thrive if they don’t take care of their own?
Football players; like boxers, are battered, beaten, and physically grinded down to entertain thousands of people. Unlike boxers these athletes wear significant more padding, however a helmet to helmet hit, a helmet to knee hit, can end a players career any second. Those who can’t play any more are left to fend for themselves, with no help from the NFL. This has been circulating through the news for the past 3 months before the NFL dog fighting case. The NFL Players association wanted help for elderly players, the NFL wouldn’t help leading to a labor war that many fans don’t know about. For some players the message was sent, Tiki Barber a running back from the New York Giants retired at the prime of his career. Some say he could have been one of the best, but I think it is much better to be able to walk at 50 than be in a wheel chair and dream about it.
I believe that retired athletes in physical sports like boxing and professional football should be protected after their careers. Their respective leagues should set up organizations to give them healthcare and help pay for operations to fix lasting injuries to their bodies that they sacrificed to for their sport, to entertain the masses. Because without them there would be no sport, so protecting the retired athletes is a must.
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