If concussions are costly, why still play football?

At various levels, football organizations seem to be taking concussions more seriously. The effects on players, particularly long-term effects due to repeated incidents, can be devastating.

In an article from the Kansas City Star, a doctor asks a sociological question that I haven’t heard raised within this debate over concussions and what can be done:

“Why would people still play football?” says Bennet Omalu, a neuropathologist and co-founder of the institute. “But I must warn you: That is a sociological question.”

This is a great point – is there anyone seriously advocating football is too dangerous for players? If the risks are high for players, should they turn away from football? For players, what makes the risk worth the potential rewards?

The article suggests several reasons for continuing to play such as potential fame, income, and the thrill of playing. But outside of the thrill of playing (which might be quenched elsewhere), these are cultural reasons; these are things endowed upon football players by millions of adoring fans. If the fame and money weren’t there, how many would still play knowing the risks?