Listening to people on the sports shows this week talk about the latest NFL controversy, two things stand out to me. One thing is the galling ignorance of the players. The rules are the rules and you are not supposed to hit your opponent in the head. The problem isn’t that you can’t tackle and make plays as much as it is players today aren’t tackling properly.
The environment has glamorized big hits at the expense of technique. While sloppy tackling has made for some big offensive plays, the risks involved with making these head-to-head hits outweigh the possible benefits of making a highlight worthy play.
I have never had a lot of empathy for the violence in football, because it has far outpaced boxing in leaving people with TBI, and this includes per participant ratios, which is what alarmed me as a novice boxer (my high school did not have a football team at the time I was a student, otherwise I would have tried out for that as well). Not only that, a word that is getting thrown around a lot, not only here but in the media, is the culture of jocks, most notably in football, lends itself to false machismo, and it can be seen in how some football players are socialized and intergrate those attitudes into their approach to dealing with people, women specifically.
One of the studio cats, a former linebacker who is in the Hall-Of-Fame, and admits to having used techniques that would get him fined/suspended today, compared the changes in rules enforcements to the evolution in boxing. He went from the bare-knuckles, fighting rounds after rounds, to now you have standing 8-counts and 12 round bouts. What irritates me listening to players talk about how ‘it ain’t gonna change my game’. Again, the problem I am having with ‘their game’ is that it was never quite legal. Make the game you have ‘legal’ and then come talk to me.
Now is there a hypocrisy involved with the NFL and how they market their product? Yeah, maybe, because to me the NFL has the same problem as the tobacco industry, in that it sells a product that does harm to the consumer (albeit, the psychological damage that football does to its fans is for another more educated person to take aim at… I can only thrown nuts down from the trees) … but when it comes to the participant, many sports have risks, some higher than others.
It is generally up to the participant to make sure that things are competitive, but safe. NASCAR has regulated cars to the point of making casualty-free crashes a norm. There can still be heard the occasional griping about all the rules and regulations that the race teams have to follow in the engineering of their vehicles, but they live and there sport is more safe than ever. When it comes to the safety provided by the cars, technologically, you could say that NASCAR is as safe as it can be, given the objective of the drivers.
Football player will get used to it. And that brings me to the second point. When you think of the intimidating players of the past, Dick Butkus and Jack Lambert, for example, their big hits were mostly clean and STILL had the desired effect on their opponents. Sure, the current highlights have these high-flying and dangerous collisions, but the game that the current NFL players grew up on, WEREN’T of the kinds of hits they themselves deliver in games. All I hear is the same kind of cowardly, false bravado that football players carry with them from pee-wee leagues. If anything, I think that video gaming, media sensationalism, and the internet (yes, it is both the bane and boon of society) fuels the poor techniques in football.
As tragic as the injury to the Rutgers football player, it was an injury that was the by-product of unavoidable poor technique. Fatigue, players positioning, as well as a host of other factors were involved. That is what makes it tragic. Some of the hits that brought began the current uproar, the hits by James Harrison and Brandon Meriweather WERE dirty. They weren’t aggressive and the object of their tackles were to me, not to make a football play but to hurt and possibly injure their opponent.
The attitudes of these two players particularly are why I have only so much respect for football players, defensive players especially. In the true combat sports, you have to account for the violence you would perpetuate on someone else and if they could not hang, then they could not hang. In football, it is not so much. You really only see that full out aggression on the defensive side of the ball (isn’t it ironic that the ‘offensive’ is inherently passive and the ‘defensive’ is patently the more aggressive side of the ball?) and from experience, I have found that you put these big monkeys in a boxing ring where they can get hit back as hard as they can hit their opponent, and they get wedgies in the shorts. Former football players make good furniture movers, they don’t make good fighters.
Ah! Thanks for listening! I feel much better now!! No, I did not end my stupefying ‘conversation’ about sex, but I needed to get this off my chest. One of the reasons that there were sooo many typos in that previous post, is that it felt a little weird talking about that stuff. Thinking about why I would write about this kind of stuff, well, the cat that I saw before I left Detroit, WE used to have all kinds of conversations, without reservation or judgment of one another. There have only been four people that I could speak frankly about this topic with, two of them are no longer with us, one lives in the KSA, and the last was the cat I ran into. Everyone else who may have ‘thought’ we were at that level of confidence, it was mainly unilateral. I normally get to be ‘the best friend’ when it would come to having this discussion with people. And that is what finally brought me to the point where I wanted to be heard. Anywho, enjoy your day!!