Watching football on TV has been my favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon for most of my life. When I first met my wife, she was very tolerant of this habit and would often pass the time sitting on the couch next to me with her Sunday newspaper and crossword. Lately, however, she’s stopped keeping me company and started making comments about how immoral it is to watch football because of the injuries it causes. She is pregnant with our first child and, if it is a boy, I was really looking forward to watching football with him. But she says there is no way she would let a son of hers watch football. Is she right? Is what I’m doing immoral? — Gabe
Dear Gabe: Would your wife let a daughter of hers watch football? As the father of three female New York Jets fans (poor things), Mensch is somewhat put out by your assumption that only a son would be eligible to join you for that particular pastime. That said, your wife is joining a growing chorus of people worried that participation in the sport can result in permanent disability and irreversible brain damage. Even some folks who were once enamored of professional football are expressing concern over the mounting evidence. Indeed, Mensch has discussed in a previous column whether or not to allow one’s child to play.
But your question is qualitatively different. That playing football entails a risk to life and limb is not really debatable. But what about spending Sunday on the couch with your favorite team on TV and your family around you? Is it actually immoral to watch a game? Probably not.
If you own a team and profit from football, you may be considered culpable for the damage it causes its players. If you are an advertiser who sponsors the telecast or the purchaser of a ticket, you are financially supporting the action on the field of play.
But even in those cases, it might be a stretch to deem your actions immoral. No pro football player is forced to play. These are adults who partake freely in a chosen profession and are compensated generously for it. All you want to do is watch a game in your living room, and the extent of your participation ends at the TV remote. So don’t worry too much about it. Once the new baby comes, you probably won’t have a hard time convincing your wife to leave the kid at home with you for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon while she goes off for some mommy time. Then you and your daughter can both enjoy watching the 49ers struggle to emerge once more from mediocrity.
My boyfriend and I are both Democrats and, even though I’ve always been a little more liberal than he is, we’ve never had a serious political difference. I can understand that he does not trust Hillary Clinton and doesn’t quite cotton to Bernie. However, I cannot stand the fact that he seems drawn to the candidacy of Donald Trump. He says he admires Trump for saying what’s on his mind instead of pandering and obfuscating, and that Trump is more pragmatic and less ideologically driven than the other Republicans. He thinks Trump is a breath of fresh air and that his business experience might be just what the country needs. At first I thought he was messing with me, but I’m really starting to worry he believes all this. I’m not sure I can take it. — Deb
Dear Deb: As of this writing, Martin O’Malley is still in it. What about him? Just kidding.
Mensch feels your pain and is tempted to assure you that the source of this disagreement between you and your boyfriend will be eliminated soon, when the voting actually starts and the immeasurable collective wisdom of the American electorate coalesces to choose dignified, informed leadership over sloganeering buffoonery. But that might not happen.
Democracy is complex and unpredictable in practice and your beau is obviously not alone in his opinion. If you’ve never had a serious political disagreement, maybe it would behoove you be more sympathetic to his outlook and seek to understand it. Just kidding. â–