February 05, 2016      

This article was republished with permission from the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies (IEET).

For nearly 150 years, American human male skulls have bashed each other on gridirons in the battle sport that brain-cripples many participants, leaving high schoolers dead, college students comatose, NFL players mentally-maimed.

Today, we hear regular reports of retired footballers wobbling forgetfully into awards banquets, crashing their cars suicidally, blowing their disturbed, demented & depressed brains out with revolvers.

Rome sent slave teams into arenas to hack each other to bits for public amusement, and it thrilled the spectators, arousing the same kinetic ecstasy viewed today in the USA when strong, swift NFL warriors propel their muscles like missles, crunching each other, with concussions the inevitable side effect.

Want evidence? Wikipedia has thousands of words on the topic. But really, it’s obvious, isn’t it?

Football players stampede around battering their heads; collision is the game’s raison d’etre. Ouch! It hurts! The best players do this multiple weekends – plus violent practices- for two decades – yeah, it’s stupid and stupefying.

Football’s brutality reminds me of bullfighting, which has recently been banned, restricted, or reformed in Catalonia, Costa Rica, Canary Islands, Ecuador, and the Mexican states of Sonora and Veracruz.

The major difference is bullfighting offers sadism towards animals – football is masochism inside our own species.

Boxing – a sport even more mentally-damaging – should also be banned; this opinion was expressed recently by a neurologist in New Scientist.

Occasionally one hears the moronic defense that football provides an escape from poverty. That’s statistically ridiculous. For every kid from a project who gets a pro paycheck, there are 100,000+X more who fail, left fuzzy-thinking for the effort.

Plus, many retirees from the brain-jarring game end up back in the poorhouse, after squandering millions.

Safe sports do exist, like track and field – the fleet-footed can race each other, ala Usain Bolt or Abebe Bikila, and the explosively strong can fling sky-high the shotput, javelin, discus, and hammer. Swimming, rowing, weightlifting, tennis and many other sports, are also healthy options.

Bioethicists should lead the outcry against football – but they don’t. Anti-football agitation is often led by rightfully-worried Moms and Dads.

What’s my solution? My game plan? Can football be pushed out-of-bounds? Can this cognitive-crippling problem be tackled? Should we walk it off the field? Should American’s Favorite Game be cancelled, forfeited, abandoned?

You disagree? You say it’s sad to sack football, to blitz it aggressively and dump it? You want to keep the game alive, but make it safe?

Well then, I suggest – we change the contestants – We Create “Football Players 2.0” – i.e., ROBOTS.

We can’t protect the cognitive organ of the meat-bags who are presently performing for us with sacrificial results, so let’s yank them off the field and substitute their frailness with metallic, omnipotent wonder-athletes.

Teams of Robots, shaped like human gridiron heroes, wearing the same colors, performing the same plays, blocking, tacking, pass-catching, running, punting, intercepting – let’s create robots that can do everything Pro Bowlers can do, without mental incapacitation as a consequence.

Robot Teams! From every city or industrial park or scholastic robotics club that can field a stalwart eleven.

If a robot’s head or limb breaks off after a vicious gang-tackle, it’s not a family loss or community tragedy – it’s just something for the maintenance team to hastily repair on the sidelines.

Robot Football offers huge benefits. Right now many parents send their sons to practice after school. Every concussion lowers IQ 1.62 points, and there’s between 140,000-300,000 concussions per year in teen programs.

Instead of decreasing their tenuous smarts on bloody, bruised lawns, high school and college boys could be elevating their intelligence in robot tech shops, preparing for the big game with cross-town rivals.

At the pro-level, professional roboticists could be imported from around the world to present development leaders in sophisticated humanoid ‘bots.

Robot Football would also end the brawn-over-brains pecking order in many American schools, where troglodyte jocks reign triumphant for over smaller, smarter, studious classmates. Replacing the trampling brutes at the top of the high school hierarchy would be pupils who excel in robot engineering – whiz kids who develop sophisticated androids that excel at leaping, galloping, feinting, straight-arming, throwing, catching, kicking, etc.

At the pro level, this high praise would continue. MVP and Pro Bowl awards would given to engineers and their robot creations – the New Nerd Heros.

Commemorating these innovators would be a huge upgrade from today’s unfortunate situation, i.e., $$$$$ and media attention lavished on steroid-raging NFL players who kill people, gobble illicit drugs, insult gays, taunt foes after TDs – behaving grotesquely and narcissistically because they’ve been pampered all their lives for successful brutality.

Robot teams are already in play in World “Football” – i.e., Soccer, in South Korea, it’s goal is to defeat a human team by 2050.

Admittedly, rRobot American Football players are going to be awkward at the onset – they’ll shuffle along slowly, fumble snaps from the center, and fall down inexplicably.

Ah, but there’s the challenge. If we put our minds to it, we can quickly create new beings that rapidly transcend our own skills. Soon, stirred by healthy regional rivalries, we can rejoice as they slam into each other cataclysmically, with crashing noises like a Monster Truck rally.

We can enjoy this without trepidation, because our own children remain intact, beside us, fully cognizant, bragging about how they improved the peripheral vision of Player #22 or the foot speed of Player #67 or the leg extension punting power of #81.

Robot Football!

Let’s build American athlete ‘droids, for our entertainment and a brighter future.

Hank Pellissier serves as IEET Interim Managing Director and Fundraiser. He was IEET’s Managing Director on January-October in 2012, and is an IEET Affiliate Scholar.