We used to care that football players got concussions

At some point, it became clear to me that while every concussion story we published would get passed around by our colleagues on social media, that’s where the engagement ended. This didn’t mean that other people weren’t aware or concerned; they just didn’t seem to feel the need to learn anything more about it. In 2017, long after I left the site, The Washington Post published a poll that showed that nine out of 10 sports fans thought head injuries were a problem in professional football, but 74 percent were still football fans.

I am not here to scold people for continuing to love football. Like many of you, I watch the N.F.L. on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays. On off days, I watch the yelling sports shows. I mostly tune in to “NFL RedZone,” a hyperactive, adrenaline-pumping, seven-hour show that flips among games and graciously cuts away whenever a player is knocked out (usually after an excruciating, slow-motion replay of the hit). The host of the show will then say something about a concerning situation and promises the viewer he will monitor it before moving on to some other matchup.

The way we watch football today feels like a capitulation that’s interesting because of how common this kind of giving in has become in modern life. We, the concerned public, may flare up our indignation for a short period when faced with an obvious problem — from school shootings to Covid policy — but there’s no real sense that we can do anything about these issues that make us mad.

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