Interesting article on Grantland about the NFL and violence. The author contends that the popularity of the game is not dependent upon the violence of the game, but that both the popularity and violence are increasing at the same time despite not being linked. His most serious point is that the sport may become too expensive for high schools and college to insure medically, and that this could threaten the game itself.
Also, listening to sirius nfl radio last night, a woman called in with two questions. First, she wanted to understand how the franchise tag works, and second she wanted to talk about concussions. She was clearly a fan, but not a super serious one if she is unfamiliar with the franchise tag. But concussions were on her mind.
For the first time since the administration of Theodore Roosevelt, there's a serious, sweeping debate over the prospect that football is simply too dangerous to subsist in a civilized society. You can no longer have a sophisticated discussion about the NFL without considering the reality of concussions. The New Orleans Saints "bounty" scandal dominated the news cycle for two weeks and will not go away. After Junior Seau's recent suicide, the first question everyone asked was, "Are they going to check his brain?" I constantly meet parents who (a) love Friday Night Lights but (b) don't want their kid playing any game with a helmet.1 Talking intellectually about football now means talking about whether football should even exist; in my lifetime, the game has never been so contentious.
The author argues that no one would stop watching if there were fewer concussions and injuries during the game. No one turns on hoping to see Jonathon Vilma carted off with a concussion. He continues with
To me, this is what's so fascinating about the contemporary state of football: It's dominated by two hugely meaningful, totally irrefutable paradigms that refuse to acknowledge the existence of the other. Imagine two vertical, parallel lines accelerating skyward — that's what football is like now. On the one hand, there is no way that a cognizant world can continue adoring a game where the end result is dementia and death; on the other hand, there is no way you can feasibly eliminate a sport that generates so much revenue (for so many people) and is so deeply beloved by everyday citizens who will never have to absorb the punishment.
He ends by arguing that both the injuries from football and it's popularity will continue into the foreseeable future. He fails to take what for me is the next logical step. If the popularity of football isn't linked to the injuries, shouldn't football at all levels take steps to reduce the injuries?
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