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Sporting life

The American football season is in jeopardy as team owners and players wrangle over pay

By David Goldblatt   April 2011

American football is the closest the modern world gets to the Coliseum, to sport as blood sacrifice. Its dominant imagery is martial and patriotic: in commentary, coaches are generals and it’s a game fought by war machines on battlefields. The Super Bowl is preceded by an air force flyby.

The NFL is a dangerous league to play in. No player escapes without serious injury at some point. The average professional career lasts just 3.6 years and footballers must have played three to qualify for post-career healthcare. They need it: NFL players have a significantly lower life expectancy than average. Laying…

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