Thursday, May 9, 2013

The NFL might really stand for "Not for Long"

As much as it pains me to say, football has overtaken baseball as America’s past time. As a nation, we have moved to a sport that suits our society at the given time. A few decades ago, life went at a much slower, simpler pace. Baseball was king, and it captivated a nation. Men wore suits and ties to games, and big leaguers mingled amongst the fan base. Arguably, college football was even bigger than the NFL at the time. However, as times have gotten fast and more complicated, the NFL has risen to power. Now, after a few decades of dominance, the NFL is facing a crisis that could spell the long term death of the league. While both short term and long term safety is important, it is ultimately weakening the game and will eventually spell the demise of the league.

One of the reasons football has overtaken baseball is the speed of the game. While both games usually last in the three hour range, the pace at which a football games plays out is unmatched. Every 40 seconds, a new play happens and you get to see someone get hit. Add to the fact that these men colliding are some of the biggest and fastest humans on Earth, and you have a recipe to hold an audience’s attention. Much like a roller coaster or scary movie, the danger is fun when you know you actually cannot get hurt. But as the game grew bigger, so did the athletes. Today, players are bigger and faster than ever before, leading to a tense situation that could destroy the game from within.

The NFL players’ union has the task of protecting not only current players, but players who have since retired. Since player safety has come under scrutiny recently, the union and the league has taken steps to help quell the high rate of concussions. There are no more two a day practices allowed anymore, something that was a mainstay of football teams dating back to high school. Also, if players are having concussion symptoms during a game, they are not permitted back in the game. From there, they must be cleared by an independent medical professional before they are allowed to resume their football activities.

The NFL is trying to take the violence out of a violent sport. That is their first mistake; turning the game into a version of flag football is not going to keep people in the stadiums. Furthermore, how are they going to justify the rising cost of player’s salaries and tickets when the product is becoming poorer in quality? Personally, I think that being paid millions of dollars is worth the sacrifice. These players know the consequences of playing the game from a young age. They continue to do so because it is a passion, as well as a way of making a great amount of money if they are good enough. Now you have older players suing the league claiming they did not know about the effects of running full speed into another human being hundreds of times. That’s funny, because when I was four years old I ran into a wall. It hurt, and from then on I made the correlation between running into something and pain. Any instance after that was of my own doing, no blame to spread around.

Perhaps it is the flow of society that has the game at a critical point. Now that society has become a vastly PC place, there might not be room for such a barbaric sport. Then again, with billions and billions to be made from television deals and advertising, there is reason to believe a medium will be reached. This fan would rather the game die and be remembered for being great than to continue on as a shell of its former self.

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