I don’t expect a Russell Crowe situation.

There won’t be a hero of American football — to show us the way. Our parallels might be gladiators fighting at the height of the Roman Empire.

As a society, what do we owe people? As a supposed republic and democracy, how much are we required to protect our citizens?

Recently, a small anti-football voice has grown louder in my head. I fear, that if I want to trumpet the protection of my fellow man, that I might have to turn against the sport that is our most exciting.

We are willfully watching our younger men batter and destroy themselves and the aftermath — which we get to hear about more and more — is becoming harder to ignore. Concussions are a heck of a thing to cheer for.

Would the feat of athleticism still translate in flag football? Many people believe that if you take the violence out of football then you take away America’s desire to watch the game at the staggering numbers it does right now.

It’s almost too amazing how many large question parallels you can draw from our most popular sport. I still can’t get over the irony of the Green Bay-Seattle finish. Here, you have replacement referees — those put in place because of a union bargaining with the NFL — screwing over a team from Wisconsin. That is, the Wisconsin that has a governor who just broke and destroyed unions across the state. The irony struck even greater because Green Bay is technically a citizen-owned franchise. That irony struck even greater again when Republican candidates called for the union referees to come back, even though the party platform is against unionizing.

Libertarianism is still on the fringes of this political debate that is coming to a head in November — despite the fact that mainstream media is shunning Governor Gary Johnson. In a world of absolute, capitalist freedom, everything is a private choice.

So in football, we say that it is up to these young men to decide whether taking a shot at millions of dollars is worth millions of dollars of ACTUAL future headaches.

The college system is more of a joke, which makes that voice in the back of my head even more annoying — there is nothing I care more about than rooting for my Iowa Hawkeyes every Saturday. But there you are again, a sham of a system built on exploiting 18-22 year olds. Those young men can’t make a dime during their college careers and all but a select few will get nothing but a college education out of the experience — and only about half of everyone who goes to college gets a degree anyway.

It’s the same thing with Long Beach allowing dogs on patios. If there was not a sense of the greater good, that wouldn’t have even been a question. Businesses would be allowed to choose whether you could smoke inside or not and whether dogs can play on premise. But taken to an extreme those businesses also could segregate, or deny business without reasoning.

True “private” freedom and capitalism denotes that it is up to the consumer to shun bad business practices — to look out for yourself. When should we look out for football players (or soccer, or hockey)? It’s not going to happen anytime soon, and I’m not going to stop watching football for the foreseeable future — but at least a smidgen of the fun is being stripped away like post-concussion memories. Society’s increased tough talk on “every man for himself” could be debilitating.

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