On this past Sunday’s ABCThis Week, George Will and Jacob Tapper were discussing the game of professional football, following the suicide of NFL great Junior Seau (it is widely believed that his suicide, like many of the suicides that occur with former players, may be directly linked to the brain injuries succumbed by the players due to years of high level play).
During the course of their discussion, Tapper and Will had this exchange:
Tapper: "George, is football in trouble, or is this just the media making a muck?"
Will: “ It's in trouble for two reasons. First of all: The human body is not built for the violence that is inherent in football at the highest level. Second: People are gonna watch football differently from now on because they're gonna feel a little bit like the speculators in the Coliseum in Rome, watching people sacrificed for their entertainment with a kind of violence that is unseemly.”
And Will is exactly right.
Be it because our media loves nothing more than to fan the flames of any controversy they can create (and putting the number one entertainment pastime of this nation under the microscope of judgment is the ideal sort of controversy for them) or because- let’s face it- the game has become a bit risky due to the increased size, speed, and strength of the athletes participating, there are some major changes that are going to have to be brought to the game of football.
The only variable is who and how drastic.
The NFL would like to keep such changes in house; tweaking equipment, changing rules surrounding contact, time away from the game due to head injuries, and perhaps a maximum time allowed in the league.
Things that they would be installing themselves, on their terms, by their own timelines.
The other solution… the one that comes with the Congressional tribunals that sports writers and talk radio blowhards like to clamor for because it gives them something to talk/write about during the off season… that will ruin the game.
Don’t think it can happen?
When was the last time you saw a pack of kids playing Dodgeball, or Tag, or “Smear the Queer”???
All games that we played growing up now gone because they were just too dangerous and irreparably damaging… And that was just to the fragile psyches of the weaker children. Imagine how the same governing bodies (which seem to constantly cater to the lowest common denominator socially)will go after an admittedly violent and barbaric sport that does cause legitimate brain and body damage???
Shit, I’m stunned it took this long.