Wyatt Cushman, Sports Editor|
Football, by nature, is a violent game. People run as fast as they can toward one another until they collide. Whether you’re a six-year-old kid at your first practice ever or a full-grown man playing in the NFL, you can expect injuries, and the people involved (or responsible for those involved in the case of the six-year-old), are accepting that injury is a possible outcome for their actions. Nobody steps onto a football field, or any sports field for that matter, without the pre-existing knowledge that they can be injured.
All of this is intensified in the NFL, where 200-pound men run around the field on Sundays trying to knock each others’ heads off. In recent years, the NFL has taken measures toward player safety. Research has made us more aware of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, better known as CTE, and the number of health problems one can experience with this disease. CTE is a degenerative brain disease found in people with repeated head trauma, and for anyone who has ever played football before, you know head trauma is a part of the game. This disease has injected fear into the minds of parents and players, and some people are shying away from the game. The NFL has even revised some of their rules to ensure player safety, and it’s hurting the game.
Now, don’t get me wrong; I fully support player safety and the long-term health of people on the field. If we could somehow take the injury element out of sport, I would vote a million times over to make that dream a reality. While we know this can never happen, some people are trying to limit the trauma they experience to their head, by no longer playing the game of football, and I support their decision to do so. Some people believe with what we know about CTE, playing football is not the best idea for them and their families. People have every right to do this, but for people that still play the game, football is and should remain a violent game.This past offseason, the NFL revised some of their rules to make the game safer.
This year, when a player lowers their head to make contact with another player, they are flagged for a 15-yard penalty. In the preseason we saw flags thrown on what seemed like every single play. It felt like the defense was unable to tackle a ball carrier without getting penalized. The NFL has since made changes to the rule, but why did they think these rules were a good idea in the first place? If any time two players’ helmets collide a penalty is thrown, it’s going to make the game less exciting to watch. Thankfully, this rule hasn’t been as extreme as we saw in the preseason, but it’s still impacting games and taking a piece of the violent nature out.
Another rule the NFL has revised this year is the “roughing the quarterback” rule. This is called when a defender makes excessive contact with a quarterback, either up by their head or down below their knees. The NFL has long tried to protect quarterbacks at all costs, but there comes a time when we need to say that a quarterback is just another player on the field, and that defenders need to be able to tackle them.
There have been several instances this season in which a defender has landed on top of the quarterback with all of their bodyweight and have been called for roughing the passer. Referees explained that they throw the flag because a defender didn’t try to brace their fall on top of the quarterback. How can a defensive lineman, someone who gets paid millions of dollars to tackle a quarterback, not be able to fall on top of the quarterback when they sack them? It’s ridiculous that quarterbacks are for some reason protected against the weight of another player falling on them, when this is not the case for every other player.
I know that the NFL is trying to make the game safer for everyone involvded so people will continue to play, but there comes a time where we need to realize that football is still a violent game, and it should be treated as such. Helmet to helmet contact is a part of the game; landing on top of opposing players is going to happen. Football will be played for years to come, but people are going to lose interest if the rules change it so drastically.