As each NFL season passes by, the league tries inching closer and closer to becoming a safer sport. More and more attention gets put on the increasing physical risks, with concussions being at the forefront of the issue. Many players have died from injuries related to their heads, including the twelve time pro bowler Junior Seau who committed suicide a couple of years ago. The NFL has been sued and has had to settle in court with retired players for millions of dollars . To make the game safer, new rules have been implemented and some have even claimed that new helmets will help quell the problem. But is it really enough to keep players safe from this brutal game?
People love the game because of its violence. There is a reason why people say its a modern gladiator game. “A Washington Post survey of retired NFL players found that nearly nine in 10 report suffering from aches and pains on a daily basis, and they overwhelmingly – 91 percent – connect nearly all their pains to football.” And in “2012, 261 players were diagnosed with concussions during preseason and regular-season practices and games combined“. Also the expectations of players have been for them to be manly enough to stay on the field after absorbing a blow to the head. In response, the NFL has tried to protect players by creating new rules such as preventing “defenseless” players from taking shots to quarterbacks above their shoulders and by putting in new precautions such as concussion tests on the sideline.
In “NFL Rules Changes: When Is Football No Longer Football”, the author Marc Tracy argues that the NFL keeps on trying to change and is it does, it is drifting away from the game he once loved. One point he harps on is that he would rather have the NFL be a violent league with hard hits than become a safer game. His main reason is because football is his entertainment and he doesn’t want “football-free Sunday afternoons.”
I disagree with Tracy, and believe that it is morally appalling to let fans stand idly by and watch their favorite players destroy their bodies. Is it right that retired players “can’t walk for any extended distance[s]” or “hurt like hell every morning when [they] wake up” for our entertainment?
I also believe that the NFL needs to decide where they stand on this issue and take a hard stance, rather than tiptoeing in between. People dislike seeing sports completely changed but they also don’t like seeing players die on the field. The game is in a terrible position now because the game has already changed from what it used to be and while there are still tons of concussions occuring.
The NFL is heading towards a path of modifying the game and I believe that they will continue down that path until Football loses its popularity. This could be similar to what happened in boxing. As Boxing, once one of the most popular sports in the world, has lost all of its following and has fallen off the map for sports fans. One major reason is that people started realizing how brutal boxing was which led to its downfall. Similarly, football will start to lose its appeal after fans realize how brutal a sport it really is. This has actually started happening as Pop Warner, the largest youth football program in the country, has seen its participation drop 9.5% between 2010- 2012 . Adding on to its lose of popularity the NFL will also have completely changed the game by this point, making many rule changes to create a safer game . Who knows for sure but maybe when I’m a father Sunday afternoons will be for watching basketball games.