I was going to respond to long time listener’s recent post "here's a poll question I'd like to see," but it started getting too long. So here are my thoughts…
1) "In 25 years, the NFL will no longer exist. True or false?"
- In 25 years the NFL will continue to exist because like any highly desirable commodity, Americans will still want it.
- Baring nuclear Armageddon, I do not conceivably see how the NFL will cease to exist. As long as people are still passionate about it and people are making tons of money off of it, it will continue.
- Now, will there be changes and differences than the game being played today? I’d say there’s about a 99% chance that yes, it will be different. Different rules will be tweaked, different styles of offenses and defenses will be played, but overall it will still be football.
- 25 years ago, nobody heard of the Wildcat. Zone blitzes were not yet being implemented and LT had just started to revolutionize his art and change the game. 25 years from now, I am not saying it will resemble the game played in Starship Troopers, but it will be different.
2) "I wonder if parents are going to stop allowing their kids to play football out of fear of the long-term consequences of concussions."
- Dear Lord, I hope not.
- I played football from 7th grade until my senior year in College and I am a better man today for it.
- Football teaches you real life lessons that your children will not learn by taking an hour of gym class or participating in soccer or gymnastics or most any other activity. I am not saying that kids shouldn’t do those activities, because there are a lot of benefits in participating in them, but they are not the same as football.
- Not everyone can play football, at least not at the higher levels of High School Varsity, College, or the pros. If your children can’t, get them in other extra curricular activities. Get them in extra curricular activities in addition to playing football. In addition to playing football in Middle School, High School and College, I played in the band, played ice hockey, played baseball, played lacrosse, rowed crew, was a member of the national honor society, and was a big brother in the Big Brother and sisters program. All great extra curriculars, but not the same as playing football.
- Football taught me discipline and hard work. It taught me how to win and how to lose gracefully. It taught me how to be a leader and a follower. It taught me the value of teamwork and preparation. It taught me wonderful clichés like "practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect." But they are all true. I know what its like to lose by a missed extra point in OT or by 45 points. I also know what its like to come from behind down 3 scores at halftime. Football is a full year sport. You lift weights in the spring, study the play book, go through two-a-days in oppressive August heat, practice in a sleet/snow storm in October, just so you can put it all together for 60 minutes on that Friday night or Saturday afternoon.
- I dislike soccer. It’s the most popular sport in the world, but its not as popular here in the U.S. for a reason. In soccer, a kid learns that the game can end in a tie and that’s ok because everyone will get to enjoy brownies and punch at the end and all is merry. In football you can only win or lose. The only way to win is to kick the snot out of your opponent and that is the American way. That’s the way most of America is hardwired and that’s why we are passionate about football.
- Are concussions a bad thing? Absolutely, and proper precautions should be taken to ensure that they don’t happen and to prevent multiple ones. Should a parent keep their child from playing football because of the threat of a concussion? I would say that that is an extreme over precaution. I would argue that your 10, 13, 15, or 18 year old kid is just as likely at sustaining a concussion by playing soccer, baseball, ice hockey, or most any other sport. I never sustained a concussion in all my years of playing football. I also played 4 years in college on old style astro turf and amazingly didn’t suffer a single knee injury. Am I the rule or the exception? Probably a little of both. That’s not to say I was never injured; I have broke bones, dislocated an elbow, and sprained my ankles. Some injuries are apart of the risk you take when strap em on.
- What we are witnessing are the greatest athletes in the world using improper form in order to deliver highlight reel hits in order to make highlights. I was always told that if you play timid you will get hurt. It is also true that if you play with reckless abandon that you will probably get hurt or hurt someone else. It is being able to use proper form and controlled rage between whistle to whistle in order to play the game right. Proper enforcement of the rules and strict disciplinary action will straighten this out.
- I have two small boys. My wife and I want them to play football. I will not force them to play. I hope that through proper parenting, full awareness, and subtle encouragement that they will want to play the game. I will not prevent them from playing because of a sudden on slaught of news coverage and revelations about concussions in the game.
That’s my rant. I hope it was coherent enough. Feel free to poke holes in my logic if you would like, but I’m sticking to my opinion.