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Saturday, December 6, 2014

IS FOOTBALL DOOMED?


IS FOOTBALL DOOMED?
A cranky opinion for

CRANKY OPINION SATURDAY

The following is the opinion of a cranky old man with limited knowledge in the subject opined.   Opposing opinions are welcome.  They are welcome but they will be ignored, and as always, please no name calling; that means you, Butthead!

Football is a rough sport.  Injuries are common.  In the past the most common problem was knee injuries.  Knee injuries ended many careers or resulted in problems down the line for ex-players.  Rule changes, better equipment and improved surgical procedures greatly reduced knee injuries.  Artificial joint surgery has lessened the problems of ex-players.  Today the big problem with football is head injuries and concussions. 

Concussions never used to be a big problem.  I played high school football.  My three sons played high school football (one has a year to go) and one son played division III in college.  Concussions were not a big issue for me or my sons.  What has changed?

First of all there were concussions, but they were just not as common, and the long term problems from a concussion were not recognized.  Players who were knocked dizzy shook off the cob webs, sniffed some smelling salts and went back in to play.  One of my sons played a full fourth quarter without remembering any of it.  Concussions were not a problem because they often did not affect players until years later and their issues were not traced back to previous football injuries.

In my opinion there are other changes in football that make concussions far more common than in the past.

First, players are bigger and faster.  Fifty years ago, I played tackle in high school.  I weighed 170 pounds.  Today the average high school tackle probably weighs 230 pounds, and they are as fast if not faster than I was at 170 pounds.

Bigger faster players cause greater head trauma.  Knockouts by boxers in the heavyweight division are common. They are relatively rare in the flyweight division.  The larger the body is, the bigger the blow, but larger bodies are not able to absorb greater force to the head.  The brain is just as vulnerable for a 300 pound player as it is for a 150 pound player. 

Second, the forward pass creates more dangerous situations.  Years ago, high school football was a 90 percent run game.  Now it is more 50 percent run, 50 percent pass.  Pass plays create more situations of players running full speed in opposite directions diving and leading with their head in an attempt to catch the ball, or knock it loose.

Larger, faster players, and more passing, equal more head trauma in football.

What is the solution?  Better headgear may just make for more fearlessness in hitting with the helmet.  Rule changes should reduce hitting with the helmet, but it will take much time for the culture to change.  Some coaches still teach tackling by driving the helmet into the runner’s chest. 

I think this concussion issue will ultimately put an end to football as we know it.  Players and their parents will be less willing to accept the risk of concussion damage, and law suits will make the game too expensive and financially risky for schools at all levels to continue the sport. 

I believe that tackle football will give way to flag football.

Flag football replaces tackling a player with grabbing a flag from his waist.  The emphasis in flag football is less on size and strength and more on speed and agility.  There are no helmets in flag football, no shoulder pads or hip pads.  The lack of protective gear actually reduces dangerous hits as players are less reckless and it makes the game safer from major injuries.  Passing, catching, running and blocking are still prominent, dangerous hits are not.

It may take a while for the culture to change, but tackle football as we know it today is ultimately doomed.  I will miss the traditional game.  I will not miss the long term debilitating injuries that are now so common.

Flag football is almost the same game, just less violent.  It is exciting, and it is much safer.

The preceding was the opinion of a cranky old man and not necessarily that of management…Mrs. Cranky.

17 comments:

  1. I've been an advocate of removing the padding and helmets as a way to REDUCE injuries. That stuff makes guys fearless. I know the fact I wear a certain amount of protective gear as a catcher makes me far less reticent to throw myself in front of runners. The natural tendency is to keep the head from harm if it's naked.

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  2. What you say makes sense, and maybe the game is doomed. Nobody is willing to put weight limits on players, or restrict the type of passing game it is. Soccer, anyone? Although there, too, is the danger of brain injury from headers. OK, basketball it is.

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    Replies
    1. Tony Conigliaro and many others.

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    2. oh basketball not baseball...sorry maybe I took one two many hits.

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    3. Haha! I bet there is at least one basketball player with head injuries. Let me think...never mind, my head hurts right now.

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  3. i do believe effects are felt many, many years afterward that may not be traced back to the hits taken on the field. vertebrae, nerves, etc. the damage is there for life.

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  4. Football is a sport right? I think so. Bwahahahahahahahahaha. Just messing with you.

    Have a fabulous day. :)

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  5. Flag football was what we played on our street when we were kids. Nobody received a concussion, although I once lost my pants when my flag wouldn't come off.

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    Replies
    1. Imagine if you were a pro & that happened on national TV!!

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  6. Mine and my two sons experience was much the same. I've have similar views now though in recent years I've come to think it will be soccer that will replace the game. But then again the violence of the sport and its warlike value remain popular our culture and the money in the for colleges and pros speaks for itself. The change come slowly but it will come....:)

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  7. There is a gladiator mentality in sports today. Baseball is getting away from it a bit with this year's catcher/runner change in rules. Football is a mother's worst nightmare and as more and more moms are keeping their sons out of the game, perhaps attrition will eventually get to the game. It will take time. My Razorbacks are proud of sporting the largest offensive line in all of football-including the pros. For now, size matters.

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad my son is 5 foot 10 and 132 pounds. No football for him!

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  8. Football has always scared me a bit. The last time we moved, we picked a school district with a school that had a lousy football team...I didn't want my son to have any part of it. (He didn't, and is now about to graduate with his brain intact as a computer engineer)

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  9. Great post, although I question our beloved game being replaced by flag football. I agree with Suldog....watch a rough and tumble game of top level rugby. No pads, no helmets, few injuries. They know how to tackle without hurting themselves. They wouldn't dare "spear". It would make them an instant vegetable. I say cut back the equipment and play on.

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  10. We have the technology and the smarts, the problem is we're idiots. There are helmets that can nearly eliminate concussion but unless they get forced onto all leagues from peewee up they're useless. By the time one reaches pro most of the damage is done. Every dizzying hit contributes and by the time pro is reached all of the brain suspension elements have already been compromised so the dinger gets easier for those huge faster players to bang on.

    There is helmet tech that can nearly eliminate concussions at all lower levels and I think the NFL should grow at east half a brain and equip all those lower leagues as a show of good faith. Problem is there's too many concussed he-men in places of power in the league .......

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  11. Lawyers are so good at finding ways to put a stop to all kinds of fun. Sometimes that's a good thing but most times it just turns everyone into paranoid idiots afraid to enjoy life because they might end up spending the rest of their days dealing with lawsuits.

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  12. My son got a concussion playing basketball. Scary stuff. CT scan. No practice for 10 days. He wasn't quite himself for a little while after that.

    Good thing our school doesn't have football.

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