About My NFL Post…

It is rare anymore that I write opinion pieces on my blog. For lack of time over the past year, writing such pieces requires a complete cut-off from everything else, including Twitter. Add in the fact that once your opinion is out there, it’s out there. I tread carefully.

My “Prepared For Football’s Future” post is out there alright. No take-backs are allowed. But, when word came of the NFL reaching a settlement with former NFL players yesterday, I began to re-think my doom-and-gloom prediction for the future of football. I believed that the litigation they were facing, while it would take years, would prompt a decrease in popularity and participation in this country.

Then $765 million happened.

The NFL will pay out $765 million over 20 years to retired players and their families, as well as to a research fund, according to this New York Times article. Players are in need of help now, seems to be the biggest reason for the settlement that surprised many in sports yesterday.

Some Twitter reaction:

No culpability admitted. No court arguments. Potential to avoid further lawsuits.

The NFL won.

***

Is this a victory for the NFL? Is football saved?

I began to think that after hearing and reading about the settlement yesterday. However, Yahoo! Sports’ Les Carpenter tweeted out his story that gave me pause on that mindset.

The bigger problem, the one that looms like a disaster, is the culture of controlled violence that led to the concussions in the first place. No withdrawal from the league’s bank account can change that. The NFL can invent new rules, it can eliminate high tackles or tell its players to stop leading with their heads, but it can’t eradicate the head blows that brought it to this point.

Therein lies the crux of the issue. Safety can be regulated. But, the popularity of the NFL has been built on the violence of it. Every sports network, local, regional or national, show highlights of big or key hits during games. We (sports fans) react passionately to those hits. GIFs of these hits go viral in minutes in today’s social media. Hits are celebrated.

I’m just as guilty as anyone else. Growing up watching football, I had no idea about what players faced when their careers were over. The debilitating injuries that left many unable to walk properly or even remember the simplest of things. I just loved watching the sport. There are times when I’m watching now that I just enjoy the game. I don’t think about the effects of the game itself. Even while I’m typing this, I’m wrestling with the hypocrisy of it all. As a fan, I celebrate plays that help “my” team or a hit that “appears” solid. But as a writer, I don’t know that we can continue football in its current violent state.

Changes are happening from the NFL level all the way down to pee-wee level. Heard of the term “No Fun League”? That’s what many use as the acronym for the league. “Let them just play flag football” is a phrase you hear or read when new rules are announced. But, these new rules are put in place for player safety. It means less of what had been celebrated in the past. Less of the big hits = No Fun League?

***

The real threat to football comes at its base level, in the youth and pee wee leagues that build the first pangs of love in players.

Carpenter is right. That is where players develop their passion to play a sport. But, how will the NFL settlement affect the future of youth football. ABC News has this story today on the potential impact it could have on youth football. Hopefulness would best describe what youth organizations have today.  If there is an NFL future, one where the league is making it safer to play the game, the trickle-down theory would seem to apply here. The NFL has spawned change through the lower levels of the sport. The safer it is to play, the more likely parents will be in allowing their children to play the game.

***

FINAL THOUGHT: In my last NFL post, I looked at where the NFL could be in 20 years. After this settlement, if we do have NFL (or football) in 20 years, it won’t be anything like what we have grown up with. I could be wrong but I won’t take back what I wrote about the NFL’s future the other day.

If other sports were smart and organized, they would do whatever it takes to gain the interest of kids today. Concussion can’t be avoided in contact sports. Even basketball, one hard foul knocking a player to the floor, whereby his/her head slams against it, concussions can happen. But, the chances decrease when accounting for the sheer violence of football.

Do I like that future possibility? No. But, I also don’t like knowing that current and former players are facing a future where they won’t remember those hits, the relationships with teammates, the wins, their friends, their family or even their own name.

Would you want that for your child?

***

CadChica Sports

This entry was posted in Twitter.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s