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Thread: Will Football (Literally) Die As It Was Born?

  1. #1

    Default Will Football (Literally) Die As It Was Born?

    Imagine a world where a single football season KILLS A DOZEN KIDS, provoking such national outrage an avid football fan and president calls a reform meeting. Not some collegiate sports powers president: The President of the UNITED STATES. Well, you don't have to imagine, because it's reality—twice over:

    Nineteen people died playing football in 1905; all but three were minors (one only thirteen.) Current reaction is apathetic compared to US reaction then (but this is about football, not America. ) Roosevelts conference began by ultimatum: Fix the game or he'd criminalize it. The response to that transformed US rugby into what we call football:


    1. The flying wedges often lethal roving scrums were banned by mandating exactly six (later seven) men on the line of scrimmage at the snap, no more, no less; look up the flying wedge now and all you'll find is military and paramilitary tactics, with only a brief footnote about its FORMER sports usage.
    2. To discourage post-snap re-creation of the flying wedge, "spread offense" was instead created by legalizing the forward pas. The original pass was a hopelessly crippled (e.g. passers had to be 5+ yds behind the line, and incompletes were turnover) desperation play, but became the thin end of its own "wedge."
    3. As the conference itself devolved into arguments failing to agree on the above or ANY change, the lone exception was creating the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the US to devise, implement, enforce, maintain and improve rules; it now governs most college sports, but adopted a shorter name (i.e. the NCAA) in 1910.


    We've not only been here before, but come full circle: It's how we GOT here. In a critical sense, we never left, just got so lost over the century since that we forgot where we are (Hmmm, that goalpost looks familiar....) The new centurys critics go to the same logical extremes as when the old one was new. Meanwhile, brutalitys enablers trot out the same absurdist apples to oranges comparisons as THEIR logical ancestors, both rhetorically asking if drownings killing far more people justifies swim bans.

    Yet, source statements notwithstanding, "the clearest parallel is" the aim and effect of high profile but low "impact" reforms:

    In the short term, none of these measures made football safer. The true accomplishment was a matter of public relations: The new rules silenced the universities threatening to cancel their football programs and the public outcry resulting from these threats. "They at least got the public off the backs of the football programs," Crippen said. "They said, 'Hey, at least we're trying something.'"

    Any casual observer of football's current head-injury crisis should immediately recognize this sentiment. Nobody quite knows what to do to make a fundamentally unsafe game any safer, but the sport, on both the professional and collegiate levels, has to be perceived as trying to do something about it. So we have national campaigns demonstrating how one armored human can "safely" force another armored human to the ground against his will. We have new rules trying to influence the split-second decisions tacklers must make. These measures are working in the same way the 1906 measures worked: Fans see football as moving in the right direction despite little evidence the game is actually safer. The changes aren't about mitigating the violence and its ramifications; they're about mitigating the moral qualms of observers. Reform isn't for the players; it's for us.

    With the rule changes of 1906, people got the absolution they were looking for. The panic had passed. The following season, according to Crippen, more people died from football than they had in 1905. Or so we think. Nobody can agree on the exact number. http://deadspin.com/did-football-cau...ing-1506758181 (Boldface and highlighting added for emphasis)
    Through it all, the same note as a century ago: "The surprising thing is that so many parents who love and are proud of their boys will consent to their taking the risks inseparable from the game."

    The difference is, a growing number of parents are asking THEMSELVES if they should let their precious vulnerable children play football—and ANSWERING with an emphatic negative. Not just squeamish overprotective mommies and scrawny bookish daddies nursing grudges over inability to get on their own HS fields: Former NFL players like Scott Fujita, even HoF players like Iron Mike Ditka, love their kids and grandkids far more than the game, so want the former nowhere near the latter.

    Nationally, youth football participation has fallen in recent years, and school boards are disbanding even championship teams out of concern for student-athlete health. One national poll found the MAJORITY OF AMERICA DOESN'T WANT ITS KIDS PLAYING FOOTBALL. A Rand Corporation poll shows 90+% parental support for all sports EXCEPT football and hockey, which barely got the majority the other poll denied football:
    Attachment 7988
    A more nuanced and perhaps more accurate view comes from NPR:


    Only 7% say HS football's too risky to play, but 44% say it "needs to be safer." That invites the kind of elaborate sham "reforms" that spawned the NCAA and the modern game ITSELF, and spurred the League Offices ongoing sound and fury signifying nothing.

    Yet statistics do show far greater risk of serious injury specifically in amateur YOUTH football compared to the pros, and research offers several likely explanations. Ignore visceral hyperemotional rhetoric and the reality is pro and top college football programs have the resources to provide all players state of the art protective gear and trainers, but many HS and JHS victims of school funding cuts rely on worn out gear and no medical staff. Many Pop Warner teams rely solely on parents and local businesses for even LESS.

    The perverse paradox is that PLAYER PROTECTION IS INVERSELY PROPORTIONAL TO VULNERABILITY. That is, adult NFL and most NCAA players have full access to the best preventative gear and medicine—but that's TOO LATE for many: Their most serious and permanent injuries came while their bodies and brains were still developing, yet already being knocked around in the scuffed, dented and ill-fitting helmets and pads their older brothers wore, with no medical attention except a sideline paramedic AFTER injury.

    I don't pretend to know the future, whether it's a 1905-esque reform so sweeping and radical it makes 21st Century football as unrecognizable to us as the SB would be to Walter Camp (who largely created directly from the English rugby Ivy League colleges played when he was a student, and strenuously but vainly protested 1905s changes,) a pablum-filled facade for continuing youth massacres, abolition modern football merely postponed for a century, or something entirely different.

    I DO know there's rapidly growing public opposition to severe permanent injuries turning people—especially CHILDREN—into impulsive, irritable sociopaths just for "love of the game" (read: Billion dollar pro and "amateur" football profits from merchandise and broadcast contracts.) I also know there are potent obvious ways to make the game safer—again, especially CHILDREN—without making it into the slapfight for dandies that "real men" declared 1905 reforms to be.

    I also know one other thing: If todays kids continue to stop watching and playing football, tomorrows NCAA and NFL football can't exist.

    Sorry if Football 101's the wrong place; it fits here better than anywhere else that came to mind. (Most) of how (and why) rugby became football is Football 101 anyway.
    Oh, valid point. I thought you meant all starters, you should take the time to be more descriptive, don't be shy. Jaded

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    I don't think so. At least not any time soon. It's as popular as ever. I could see it happen if Soccer ever takes off in the US.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrazyHorse View Post
    I don't think so. At least not any time soon. It's as popular as ever. I could see it happen if Soccer ever takes off in the US.
    Did you actually read all that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CrazyHorse View Post
    I don't think so. At least not any time soon. It's as popular as ever. I could see it happen if Soccer ever takes off in the US.
    The thing is, I'm not sure it IS as popular as ever. Youth football participation's down. Ratings fell several straight years during and after the lockout, only recovering to pre-lockout levels last year; treading water isn't "popular as ever" when the poll of tomorrows players and fans is shrinking. Commissioner "protect the shield" has presided over a series of ongoing, prominent and (in the case of the still-pending CTE settlement) expensive PR nightmares.

    Someone in the game day thread complained about SNFs intro, but I find it fitting: "I Hate Myself for Loving You" is the PERFECT melody for what's become the lying, cheating abusive spouse the nation excuses to the rest of our family each time they ask wtf we keep taking its crap, and aren't we scared it'll hurt the kids one day? As it just keeps on beating its chest (et al....) flirting with the UK and raising more pointed questions increasingly hard to ignore.
    Oh, valid point. I thought you meant all starters, you should take the time to be more descriptive, don't be shy. Jaded

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    Quote Originally Posted by BroncoJoe View Post
    Did you actually read all that?
    Most of it. Skimmed some parts. The key takeaways are that Pop Warner and High Schools don't have proper equipment and that there's been outrage about injuries as far back as a century ago.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joel View Post
    The thing is, I'm not sure it IS as popular as ever. Youth football participation's down. Ratings fell several straight years during and after the lockout, only recovering to pre-lockout levels last year; treading water isn't "popular as ever" when the poll of tomorrows players and fans is shrinking. Commissioner "protect the shield" has presided over a series of ongoing, prominent and (in the case of the still-pending CTE settlement) expensive PR nightmares.

    Someone in the game day thread complained about SNFs intro, but I find it fitting: "I Hate Myself for Loving You" is the PERFECT melody for what's become the lying, cheating abusive spouse the nation excuses to the rest of our family each time they ask wtf we keep taking its crap, and aren't we scared it'll hurt the kids one day? As it just keeps on beating its chest (et al....) flirting with the UK and raising more pointed questions increasingly hard to ignore.

    I think that was me actually. I hate the pregame and Carrie Underwood singing. I can definitely understand a decline in youth football, but the NFL is at it's apex. Last year's Super Bowl was the most watched show EVER in the US. The NFL is also boosted by the popularity of fantasy football, especially daily fantasy sports. I don't think it's in danger of going anywhere any time soon.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BroncoJoe View Post
    Did you actually read all that?
    Yeah, there's this old thing where people actually read stuff BEFORE replying; all the adults are doing it. That's part of why my replies tend to run as long as my own posts: Because I actually READ and CONSIDER what folks say—each part—and respond accordingly. But I admit sometimes putting more thought into one liners than their authors do.
    Oh, valid point. I thought you meant all starters, you should take the time to be more descriptive, don't be shy. Jaded

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    Lol. Ya.....football is in trouble.
    Quote Originally Posted by Joel View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrazyHorse View Post
    I think that was me actually. I hate the pregame and Carrie Underwood singing.
    Huh, turns out it was: I remembered the page, but not the author, because I intended to make that analogy there, but by the time the game ended it was a bit late.


    Quote Originally Posted by CrazyHorse View Post
    I can definitely understand a decline in youth football, but the NFL is at it's apex. Last year's Super Bowl was the most watched show EVER in the US. The NFL is also boosted by the popularity of fantasy football, especially daily fantasy sports. I don't think it's in danger of going anywhere any time soon.
    Is it an apex though, or just a plateau? Does it MATTER which, since it can only "progress" in one direction either way? Routine concealed brain damage, 'roid-raging unsuspended cheap shot artists, domestic violence (these three are ALL UNRELATED, of course) and tainted titles even as the NFL desperately tries to expand its female, foreign and youth markets because 100% of US adult men is an "apex" by definition.

    Last years SB had 2.2 million more (US) viewers than 2013s, but the US population grew by 2.4 million: That's actually a slightly LOWER share, even if the total's higher.
    Oh, valid point. I thought you meant all starters, you should take the time to be more descriptive, don't be shy. Jaded

    Never confuse frustrated candor and disloyal malice.
    Love can't be coerced. —Me

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    Quote Originally Posted by Timmy! View Post
    Lol. Ya.....football is in trouble.
    1. Last year, the NFL volunteered $765 million (>8% of pre-cost revenue; actual PROFIT figures are impossible to find) to prevent the CTE suit seeing a jury, and the NFLPA accepted—but the judge threw it out on the grounds that was too LOW to cover all the players' damages and medical costs; the case remains in limbo.
    2. Meanwhile, national network broadcast sponsors began jumping ship en masse in the way of the Ray Rice scandal, which hit the NFL where it lives (i.e. its wallet, and especially the unparallelled leverage unparalleled ad revenue from ratings gives it in demanding ever-growing network broadcast licenses.) And a judge put the Commissioner on the stand to find out what he saw on the video and when he saw it.
    3. A third judge just threw out the Commissioners token suspension of Brady for cheating in a game that only DECIDED WHO WENT TO THE SB; the appeal's pending.

    Getting called to court about ones company THREE SEPARATE TIMES IN TWO YEARS is bad for the brand and business generally. Throw in the parents racing to yank their kids off Pop Warner and school football teams before they're turned into psychotic vegetables for life, and that's a foreboding future for the game. Sticking our fingers in our ears may be working out well for Goodell (his salary's gone from $10 million to $44 million in just 5 years) but not for the game.
    Oh, valid point. I thought you meant all starters, you should take the time to be more descriptive, don't be shy. Jaded

    Never confuse frustrated candor and disloyal malice.
    Love can't be coerced. —Me

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    It might be getting good ratings, but the game is a totally different game than it used to be. The penalties now days are ridiculous.

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    Football isn't in trouble, and studies are showing that soccer causes as much concussions as football. I guess we can start sitting around and watching kids play video games like they do on Twitch....... yaaaay.
    (the previous comment was not directed at any particular individual and was not intended to slander,disrespect or offend any reader of said statement)

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    Participation at the youth and high school level is down in every sport and activity, especially at the high school level.

    Football is not in trouble any more than other sports are. And they aren't in trouble.

    The NFL has record profits, revenues and ratings. The TV contracts continue to steadily increase. Same with college.
    *The statements above are my opinions, unless they are links, because then they are links, which wouldn't make them my opinions, and I suppose stats aren't necessarily opinion, but they are certainly presented to support an opinion. Proceed accordingly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dzone View Post
    It might be getting good ratings, but the game is a totally different game than it used to be. The penalties now days are ridiculous.
    If Goodell's right, that's the Back to the Future world where we're heading: It's how we got the forward pass and seven-man lines, so how we'll get whatever replaces football as football replaced rugby. And in 2150 the demand will be for something different to protect our grandkids' grandkids from brain damage and other serious injuries, because the new safety "reforms" haven't done that any more than legalizing passing did.

    Quote Originally Posted by MOtorboat View Post
    Participation at the youth and high school level is down in every sport and activity, especially at the high school level.

    Football is not in trouble any more than other sports are. And they aren't in trouble.
    Attachment 7988
    http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2014...b-s400-c85.png

    90% of parents say they're cool with their kids playing ALL the other sports (except hockey) but barely 50% say the same about football: It's not the same. How many school boards are CANCELING their baseball or basketball programs because they're worried about their students (and parent reaction)?

    Quote Originally Posted by MOtorboat View Post
    The NFL has record profits, revenues and ratings. The TV contracts continue to steadily increase. Same with college.
    2.2 million more SB viewers among 2.4 million more American isn't record ratings: That's a a slight ratings DROP. Just like the drops in 2011 and 2012 that took boosts in 2013 and 2014 to reverse. Treading water (at BEST) isn't breaking records, especially when national sponsors exercise morals clause exits in ad contracts because the NFL indulges wife beaters: That (and CBS hemorrhaging money after its exclusive deal with MLB 20 years ago) was a wake up call to networks that the NFL's NOT worth it at any price.
    Oh, valid point. I thought you meant all starters, you should take the time to be more descriptive, don't be shy. Jaded

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    Love can't be coerced. —Me

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    Joel, why do you even watch football? You seem like you'd be very pleased if it disappeared.

    Where are you getting your figures re: 2.4 more Americans? Your comment on "the NFL indulges wife beaters" and "wake up call to networks that the NFL's NOT worth it" is utterly ridiculous as well.

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