Scrutinizing football’s Violence Often Adds Insult to Injury

3 min readJan 26
Photo by leah hetteberg on Unsplash

Recently, Professor Tracie Canada wrote an article in Scientific American called: Damar Hamlin’s Collapse Highlights the Violence Black Men Experience in Football: The “terrifyingly ordinary” nature of football’s violence disproportionately affects black men.

Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy tweeted, “As a black man and former NFL player, I can say this article is absolutely ridiculous.”

Last week, I wrote a piece showing how Canada used a poor method to make her claim, violence in the NFL does not disproportionately affect black men, and Canada exploited Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest on the field to make a false equivalence between the NFL and slavery.

Last week, I attempted to explain why Dungy found the article ridiculous as a former NFL player. Now, I’ll attempt to explain why he found it ridiculous as a black man.

The comparison between the NFL and slavery gained traction when black players became the majority. The comparison points out a “power dynamic” between white owners and black players. The argument goes: Black players are well compensated, but studies have shown the majority of NFL players go bankrupt a few years after retirement. Therefore, “black athletic labor” only increases the wealth of white owners.

Those who compare the NFL to slavery know it’s an inaccurate comparison, but it’s a good way to accuse the NFL of racist exploitation and make demands for black NFL owners.

Let’s go back to bankruptcy.

In 2015, studies revealed that 70 percent of NFL players, 60 percent of NBA players, and 5 percent of MLB players went bankrupt within five years of retirement. These figures have remained constant since they were first compiled.

Why wasn’t the NHL mentioned?

It’s not that zero hockey players go bankrupt after retirement; it’s because the majority of hockey players are white. And if white players go bankrupt, it’s their fault, but if black players go bankrupt, it’s the fault of a racially exploitive system. In other words, white players have agency, and black players don’t.

Also in 2015, the movie Concussion, starring Will Smith, made more people outside of sports aware of CTE…


J. Pharoah Doss is a columnist for the New Pittsburgh Courier.