SportsProf

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Will Football Become Extinct?

Great, thought-proving piece from Jason Whitlock by way of comcast.net.  You can read it here.

We can get into a mindset where nothing will change.  We can think that football will retain its preeminence precisely because it's on top now.  Yet, the business world is littered with the detritus of companies that failed because they made bad decisions when they were on top (you can read Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen's books on the topic). 

Boxing and horse racing used to be on top, and baseball has been dubbed the national pasttime.  Football right now is on top, per se, because of the revenue it generates.  Yet, what it does to the health of the participants suggests that either public laws or the plaintiff's bar could render this sport obsolete, because the argument that players assume the risk of suffering brain damage in middle age.  To his credit, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is trying to do something about football's problems.  To his credit, deep down he probably believes that football cannot continue at this pace with its current rules. 

It could be that football evolves out of existence.  Rationally, a better decision would be to make it a lot less violent, like lacrosse, where hitting is permissable within limits.  Which means no head shots, no leaping tackles, and, yes, perhaps a reversion to flags.  O-linemen will be able to hit, but only with arms extended.  Quickness will become preeminent, and everyone's children could be safer.  The violence, of course, would vanish. 

Because of the elimination of violent hits, clotheslining and the protection of quarterbacks, the violence has been reduced already.  The NFL has an opportunity to reduce it even further and figure out creative ways to enhance the quality of the game -- and give its participants the ability to talk about it into their 70's and 80's. 

All football is at a crossroads, because the risk of permanent brain injuries -- just like the risk of second-hand smoke -- is not acceptable.

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