Bernard Pollard and the President made some comments last month about violence in football. The reason these comments caught so much attention is because they deviated from the the standard idea that "football is violent, but so popular that it's not going anywhere, so let's pay attention to making the game safer."
The President says he might consider not letting his kid play football. Pollard said the game will be watered down to the point it would disappear. The President is trying to be diplomatic and Pollard is trying to protect his livelihood of smashing offensive players. But the debate needs to carried out. So I ask, what do you want to see in the way of safety rules or equipment changes? Or are you just fine with the current state of the game of football?
BASIC PHILOSOPHICAL AND SOCIETAL PREMISES
The reasoning goes: Sure, football is violent, but the players agree to participate, players who are compensated well at the college and especially professional levels, so the players are agreeing to the implicit risks, but because we are not barbarians, we still must regulate football rules and protect individuals to an extent.
So there is a constant back and forth between players, fans, and rulemakers...regarding how to protect players, while at the same time not destroying this golden goose that brings joy to hundreds of millions people.
SAFETY CHANGES AT THE PRO LEVEL
This is ALWAYS an NFL discussion, not always a college or high school issue. Colleges don't have to provide long-term medical care or pensions to their players. The Pros do. Jesse says:
For the record, I'm in favor of trying to make the game safer with real legislation (mandatory double-sided mouthpieces, better medical evals of potential concussions, better helmets, etc), as opposed to things like, "Well, we can flag the guy if he leads with his head because that doesn't cut into our profit margin or potentially hurt us in the ratings department."
Jesse is probably right. And what the NFL does, filters down into the college and high school game.
WILL THE LEAGUE DISAPPEAR?
Obviously not, but it's sad to see when a defender softly pushes a quarterback and is assessed an unsportsmanlike penalty. To draw a parallel, the NBA has forever damaged their brand with the "if it looks like a foul, you should probably call a foul" refereeing. America loves aggression, we love "real sports", not watered down competition with stifling rules. So I understand Pollard's point. Imagine a college football world with no helmets?
Our own Ted Glover gave his thoughts:
Football is a violent sport. If you want to play at the professional level, sign a waiver to the effect that you will not pursue legal action for damages after you quit playing for injuries that can reasonably be expected to happen over the course of your career. No one makes you play the game, and the player knows the risks they are taking by participating. To me, it's the equivalent of me crashing a helicopter or getting shot down and then blaming the military for what happened. I knew the risks of being a military helicopter pilot during a war, and I accepted those risks.
And MSULaxer chimed in:
After the UM/SCarolina game what was the lead clip on the WWL? The vicious hit on Smith by Clowney. Football won't change until we, as a society, determine that we will no longer watch the game as it is presently constituted.