“I am a Catholic. He is a priest. It seemed natural to ask the Rev. James Martin if it was morally wrong to enjoy watching professional football, namely the Super Bowl, on Sunday. Martin is a Jesuit, which is the order that produced Pope Francis and provided the foundation (for better or worse) of my education. He is a writer, a thinker and an acknowledged public intellectual. But Martin, a Philadelphian, is also an unabashed Eagles fan… He, too, is uncomfortable enjoying a brutal sport that has imperiled the health of its work force.” J. Drape, The New York Times
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: ‘The American Dilemma’: Why Do We Still Watch Football? By Joe Drape, The New York Times
“Still, Martin will meet his 86-year-old mother at his sister’s home in New Jersey on Sunday and pull hard for the Philadelphia Eagles to win their first Super Bowl title.
‘I don’t think it’s a stretch to ask that question, but I’m not sure what the answer is,’ Martin said. ‘I have watched with interest the progression of medical research. Are we using their bodies for profit? Are we using their bodies for our enjoyment?’
C.T.E. has been found in the brain of one dead N.F.L. player after another. Published studies have found a correlation between the total number of years one plays tackle football and the likelihood of one’s developing brain disease later in life.
Still, we shrug. Last year, 111.3 million people tuned in to CBS’s Super Bowl broadcast, according to Nielsen.
Even with N.F.L. regular-season ratings down 12 percent this season, Eagles-Patriots on Sunday will almost certainly be the most-watched television event of the year — as the previous year’s Super Bowl was… Stories of concussions do not affect viewership of the game for 77 percent of fans, as two-thirds of them told pollsters they believed player safety had been prioritized, according to the annual Burson-Marsteller Super Bowl survey.
Alan Schwarz, the former New York Times reporter who exposed football’s concussion crisis, said that the issue does not discourage him from watching the N.F.L.
‘I have no problem watching the N.F.L. — these are grown men making grown men’s decisions,’ said Schwarz, whose investigative articles from 2007 to 2011 compelled new safety rules for players of all ages.
‘After being kept in the dark for so many years by their employers, they now know they could wind up brain-damaged. Fine. They’re professional daredevils. It wasn’t immoral to watch Evel Knievel. We watch stuntmen in movies.’
Many Americans say they have been turned off by on-field protests during games (61 percent, according to the Burson-Marsteller survey), but most say they plan to watch the game even if there are protests.
Bryan Partee is the executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Marshall, Tex., the town that brought us the great Y. A. Tittle as well as Dennis Partee, Bryan’s father, who was a kicker for the San Diego Chargers in the 1960s and 1970s. Dennis Partee, 70, has Parkinson’s disease and is part of the N.F.L.’s concussion settlement.
His love for the game has been passed down through the family. Bryan Partee played football in high school; his 10-year-old son, Noah, will not. Yet they will all watch Sunday’s game together.”
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming
Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about the topic. Next, have students look at the pictures in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Regroup as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- Football is the American dilemma.
- People watched several renditions of the video.
- Are we using their bodies for profit?
- C.T.E. has been found in the brain of many N.F.L. players.
- Studies have found a correlation between the number of years one plays and developing brain disease later in life.
- Still, many viewers shrug off the results of the studies.
- Stories of concussions do not affect viewership of the game.
- They’re professional daredevils.
- Many believe that Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, was blackballed by the N.F.L.
- Some parents watch the game with an increasing amount of dread.
Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.
Jelani Cobb, the New Yorker___ and educator, said he would not be watching on___, but his reason had nothing to do with the game’s ___and ___for life-threatening injury. He is not watching because he believes Colin Kaepernick, the ___San Francisco 49ers___, was ___by the N.F.L. for for social justice when he chose to take a knee for the national ___before games.
WORD LIST: anthem ,protesting, quarterback, blackballed, potential, former, violence, writer, Sunday,
Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition
Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.
Soon/so my wife and I, like millions/mill of other parrots/parents, will have to make a similar decision/decide about our own football-crazy 13-year-old. We know the long-term rakes/risks now, and that makes/make what used to be a simple decision far more harrowing. No priest/price will be able to help us. The N.F.L. should be as worried about that as I am.
III. Post Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Discussion for Comprehension /Writing
- Do you like to watch football games?
- Do you play football? Do you play soccer?
- What are the similarities (if any ) between American football and soccer?
- Why do you think football is described as “The American Dilemma”?
- Look at the pictures. Which ones encourage people to play football? Why?
- In your opinion, are there ways to make football less dangerous for players?
- Do you think football will change in 20 years? If yes explain how, if no explain why not.
1-Minute Free Writing Exercise
Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading. Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.