A serious post

This is a fundamental tackle. Notice how the guy does not lead with his head. Also notice how the guy is not dropping really quickly (it's actually kind of ridiculous how little he appears to be moving). Less exciting, smaller hit, safer play.

I could be like every other blogger out there and write about BIG ISSUES.

For example, this past weekend, there were a number of big hits, some called, others let go.  The post/column/argument begins with the scene: a wide receiver crosses the middle, jumps up to catch a pass and, while in mid-air, a ripped defensive back comes up and lays his helmet into the receiver.

Then, naturally, come the facts.  You’ve probably heard them before…that the average American male lives to be nearly 80 years old–and the average NFL player lives closer to 50 years.

The conclusion comes in the form of a call for action.  Our righteous colleagues call for suspensions instead of fines, condemnation instead of recognition and sorrow for the victim over glory for the hitter.

But every other blogger misses the complication:  America likes to talk about safety in sports, but safety is boring.  For better or worse, danger reigns supreme.

NFL athletes work out more than athletes in many other sports.  As workout routines become more advanced and supplements (not all legal) more prevalent, today’s athletes are basically weapons, weapons that are put against each other in a confined area for 60 minutes so people can watch.

And people do watch.  Sure, they cringe after a bad injury, but it’s only momentary.  The player gets put on the stretcher, helped off the field and the crowd cheers.  Play resumes.  No one thinks about what is going on with the player except his own mother.

I will not stop watching the NFL.  Neither will you.  There’s a reason ESPN puts big hits into its top ten plays.  There’s a reason defensive players jump up and celebrate while their opponent lies on the ground.  And there’s a reason the NFL will not put rules in the game to prevent big hits.

Want to know what that reason is?

Us.

Because for those of us watching on the couch, the vicarious danger coming through the screen is not as real as for the players. Yet it still quenches our primal thirst for danger that we would never be able to satisfy on our own.

It’s a flawed system, and I do hope it is changed.  But if it is, don’t be surprised if the NFL loses primacy in American sports.

Is touch football the answer?  Not with this guy…

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Mojo Jojo on October 20, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    What about flag football, Collin? Can you imagine Ray Lewis trying to pull someone’s flag off?

    Also, that’s a fundamental tackle EXCEPT that the tackling guy is launching himself at the other guy.

    I think everyone loves big hits (phrases like “DAMN! He got lit up!!” flying), but mostly of the legal variety. A RB gets slammed to turf when a defender rams into his chest? Sure his head does that whiplash thing but all’s good. It’s when you have hits of the Jerome Harrison and Brandon Merriweather variety where it turns away from legal (yet still concussive and dangerous) to cringe-worthy. Thing is, while leading with your helmet to tackle either a defenseless receiver or a QB isn’t allowed, isn’t it still legal to go helmet-to-helmet on a RB? (a la Harrison on McGahee in the playoffs two years back).

    Reply

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