Pro football is good for your health
Those who follow sports today understand that the sports media are as sissified as the news media. The result lately has been an unending stream of softcore Marxist articles about the dangers of pro football.
I say “Marxist” because the articles and TV features almost inevitably pit manipulative money-grubbing owners against hapless exploited players.
Unable to find a serious longitudinal study on player life spans, I decided to do one of my own while watching Utah beat Georgetown, still my least favorite team, in the NCAA round of 32.
To do my study, I selected a team with high media exposure in the hope that the players’ biographical data would be more accessible. I chose an era as much like the modern one as possible but far enough in the past to provide useful numbers.
The team I chose was the New York football Giants from 1960. I found useful data on 34 of the Giants players and compared their statistics to those of the average male born in 1930.
In a nutshell, the life expectancy for all men, black and white, born in 1930 was 58. Fortunately, the Giants of that season had roughly the same racial breakout as the nation at large.
If the average male lived to be 58, the average Giant has lived to be 71. That number can only keep climbing, as 11 of the 34 Giants are still alive.
Two of Giants died of accidents before they were 40. If they are removed from the calculations, the average Giant has lived to 74 and climbing.
Of the 32 who did not die from accidents, 28 of them lived past 70. Several of the deceased died from ailments that could have no real relation to playing football, like leukemia or heart failure.
In sum, playing pro football seems to have a hugely beneficial effect on a player’s health. It is altogether possible that former pros limp a little more than the average Joe, but those 13 or so extra years of life – not to mention the major extra bucks – make it a decent trade-off.