The Demise of the NFL

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?

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NFL Player Wes Welker, after a hard hit. He was later diagnosed with one of his many concussions.

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.

 

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Boxing and football two of the most brutal sports

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.

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3 comments

  1. johnoett · November 16, 2014

    In my opinion, while the league can make rules and changes to try and make the sport safer, football is an inherently dangerous sport that will always be risky to play. No matter what, players have a chance of getting seriously injured every time they step on the field. When you ask whether it’s right that retired players say they can’t walk for long periods of time and have constant aches and pains, you’re pinning all of the responsibility on the league and its policies. At some point, we have to acknowledge that the players are adults and made conscious decisions to play the game. They undoubtedly saw some of the hits and some of the injuries associated with the NFL before they entered the league, and they still chose to join it. Nobody forced these people to participate in the NFL, and it’s not like the sport’s incredibly violent nature was some kind of secret. In the case of Wes Welker, he has deliberately continued to play in the NFL despite receiving multiple concussions. As an undersized slot receiver, I’m sure he is aware of the risks to his body that playing his position poses. So, would the NFL be to blame if his health starts deteriorating after he retires? Maybe a little bit, but Welker is an adult, and he knowingly put himself potentially dangerous situations. As long as football continues to be football, players are going to have to contemplate whether the health risks are worth playing in the NFL.

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  2. pburt117 · November 16, 2014

    This post brought up interesting conflicts between the ethics and interests of the American public. It is interesting to see that players’ bodies undergo such damage, yet people love watching it. Some claim that it is wrong to allow this, and that the game should be changed to make it less violent. However, this point could be counteracted by noting that football players get paid by millions, and they do not have to play. It is voluntary, and most of them live more lavished lifestyles than a lot of fans. By changing the rules, some people may lose interest in the game. It seems like it may not happen, but if the rules continue changing so drastically, football may be way different in decades to come. Then the players will not be paid as much if there is less revenue to be had. Rule changes may save their health, but there are further implications in the future.

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  3. ashdh · November 19, 2014

    I don’t think there will ever be a point where the NFL is deemed totally safe. In my opinion, these rule changes definitely need to be taken seriously, as changing the game that millions of Americans love could see disastrous results for the NFL. If they go too far with these changes, they will definitely alienate fans and perhaps lose revenue. On the other hand if no rule changes at all are instituted, safety is going to become a big issue in the league and players will start suing and complaining. In this way, the NFL is in a precarious position. I don’t necessarily agree with the point that the NFL will lose popularity, as the NFL executives will probably do research on what rule changes fans and players are comfortable with. Football is a brutal game, and I think players understand this fact, so the rule changes will not be so comprehensive as to change the fabric of the game that these players love.

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