Stop supporting the NFL if you want but don’t talk about soccer as the virtuous option. Soccer is also really bad.

Jason Pauley
3 min readJan 7


In light of the recent tragedy regarding Damar Hamlin’s collapse on the field during the Monday night game. One of the recurring sentiments I’m seeing on social media is comparing the Bad NFL to the Good soccer. I’m not going to tell you to remove blame from the NFL. As a hyper-engaged NFL fan of 40+ years, I’m more aware of the NFL’s many faults than most of you who just heard of the Buffalo Bills on January 2, 2023, and decided you’ll never watch a sport that you already never watched. Criticism of the NFL is warranted: violence and player safety, CTE, inequality at higher levels of management (IMO), gross and criminal behavior by owners (see Washington) and players that get excused time and time again, bounty-gate, the list goes on.

So, this whataboutsim is not intended to take the spotlight off the NFL, it’s to inform those of you who keep talking about soccer as an alternative and a more virtuous option that soccer is far from a good option.

If a player’s safety is your concern, then don’t watch soccer. Here are just 4 examples from the last 20 years, there are many more that you can find by googling “professional soccer players who died on field

  • Marc-Vivien Foe died on the pitch in during the Confederations Cup match in 2003.
  • Miklos Feher was playing for Benfica in 2004 when he collapsed on the pitch and died

2 recent players to have heart attacks on the pitch and live

  • Fabrice Muamba collapsed while playing for Bolton in 2012 he lived, but never played again.
  • Christian Eriksen collapsed on the field during a European Championship in 2021. He was brought back by defibrillator, and they continued the game 2 hours later.

There have been over 26,000 NFL players throughout history, and one died from a play on the field (Chuck Hughes in 1971). Again, not excusing the NFL. More and more former NFL players are tragically being diagnosed with CTE which is a tragedy happening in slow-motion and in a less shocking way than an incident that happens right before our eyes on national TV, but it is no less tragic and the NFL bears responsibility.

Did you enjoy the World Cup? There is a good chance you did:

The English-language coverage of the U.S.’s group-stage match against England was the most-watched men’s soccer match ever on U.S. television, with a peak audience of 19.65 million viewers on Fox. Per Fast Company

Estimated hundreds (400+) of migrant workers died building those new World Cup stadiums so that you can be entertained. Poor and dangerous labor conditions were not a secret when FIFA gave the World Cup to Qatar, and as a result many people died. Lack of LGBTQ rights (criminalizing homosexuality) in Qatar was also well-known when FIFA awarded the World Cup to Qatar, and it was well-known when you watched the games.

Stop supporting the NFL if you want. Folks on the political right and on the political left keep swapping who is mad the NFL each month and swear they “never watch another game”, yet despite this, the NFL made up 45 of the 50 largest Nielsen-measured sports audiences last year. If this recent tragedy is the trigger for you to never watch another game, please go with your conscience and do your part to bring about change. But you shouldn’t make other sports such as soccer appear to be the good guys or the moral choice so that you can feel good about your decisions outside of American football.



Jason Pauley

Passionate about Analytics (Football, Sports, Marketing, Sales, Demographics)