In wake of the highly discussed bounty program created by the New Orleans Saints, multiple players and coaches have been suspended, some for a few games and others for the entire season.
The major issue with paying players to cause harm to other players is the risk of injury. Athletes are always at risk of injury due to the compromising positions that athletes place their bodies’ in during competition. Bounty programs only compound the chances of injury, to include but not limited to concussions, broken bones and ligament damage.
Concussions – The recent death and suspected suicide of NFL great Junior Seau has once again placed a microscope on football and head trauma. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease caused by head trauma from repeated blows to the head has been said to cause depression and suicidal thoughts.
Ligaments – Damage can be detrimental to an athlete’s career. A ligament often requires surgery to repair as it lacks sufficient blood flow. Therefore, recovery takes place at a much slower rate than fractures or broken bones. ACL and MCL tears are some of the common ligament injuries in professional sports and can be season and/or career ending depending on success of rehabilitation.
Paying players to cause bodily harm damages the very foundation of competitive athletics. Usually, participation increases self-esteem, integrity, discipline, honor and responsibility. Promoting and rewarding injuries degrades the lessons and values that organized sports bring to the lives of athletes from little league to professional sports.
Injuries are a part of sports and they can happen to any athlete at any time. However, it is clear how serious these major injuries can affect the body. Bounties only increase the likelihood.