Sex, Football, and the Greater Good

The Economics of Consent vs. Opportunity

Heather M. Edwards
13 min readFeb 12, 2022


All rights © Eunice Stahl

An estimated 31 million Americans are projected to bet $7.6 billion on the Super Bowl this weekend on anything from how long the national anthem will be sung to the color of the Gatorade dumped on the winning coach.

Money and football are as red, white, and blue as the Fourth of July. I don’t know who’s playing this year but, ultimately, it doesn’t matter.

Giving up the NFL is easy for someone who doesn’t have their own team. But college football? I’m a Duck. And I don’t want to let that go. Why should I?

Dr. Rogers S. Walker’s compelling case for repudiating the physical damage American football inflicts on young boys and men, particularly those with limited financial opportunities, is medically researched and personally impassioned.

The research is unequivocal — we can’t, in good conscience, continue to support, promote or glamorize football anymore. As with so many American traditions, it’s time to condemn and abandon violence-as-entertainment.

“Much of the harm of football is nonconsensual or it involves problematic consent. Children cannot understand or consent to the potential long-term harm they are inflicting on their bodies or others. Consent also is compromised for the many young adults who view college and professional football as their only way out of poverty. In essence, many of these young players have been socially coerced into a deeply damaging form of labor.” — Dr. Rogers S. Walker

What are the true economics of consent? What are the ethics when others earn money from your dangerous labor?

Dr. Walker is right. Poverty isn’t true consent or “choice”. Neither is the “consent” of any minor. Even when they want to play. And for young boys with few options, financial imperatives can underpin their pursuit of traditional masculinity. The circumstances can be coercive.

Here’s how the dominoes fall. Poverty creates economic disparity. Economic disparity creates income inequality. Disparity and inequality always create a power differential.

Just because we’re on the winning end of an economic equation doesn’t mean we have to exploit someone else’s vulnerability…