Football, A Violent Collision
Published: Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 16:10
The game of Football has evolved from a small nine-man sport with leather helmets to one of America’s greatest pastimes. The Super Bowl is America’s most viewed sporting event; reaching over 108 million people.
How did this game become so popular with our society? Is it the spirit of heavy competition? Or the thrill of aggressive play that excites us? I would say it is both.
Football had its origins pre-nineteenth century but it did not become a national sport until 1920 when the National Football League (NFL) was formed. Since then the game has seen innumerable tweaks and changes throughout history.
Specifically the technology of equipment and the rules of the game have change dramatically. In the old days, player strapped on padded pants, a sweater and leather helmet as protection in their head to head bouts.
It wasn’t until 1940, twenty years after its inception, that the NFL had the more modern plastic helmet. In 1955 the idea of a single bar facemask was implemented to offer further protection against football’s violent collisions.
With technology ever evolving, so do the players. The professional athletes of today tower over the ones of yesteryear. The advancements in weight lifting and nutrition have created a larger, faster and stronger player.
The plays are getting bigger and the hits are getting harder. So how much can/is being done to preserve the integrity and safety of the game without taking away the features that make it a popular spectacle?
For those of you who are football fans you are probably familiar with the name Roger Goodell. He is the commissioner of the NFL currently.
Many fans view him negatively as he has grown famous for issuing large fines on players for hard hits. Some are understandable in that the player was violating league rules in the way they hit. Others are more questionable as to why they should be fined.
New rules have been implemented in the last five years that have taken away many of the hard knocks that fans love to see and players love to deal. While the speed of the game is increasing, some argue that the NFL is trying to make it softer through ridiculous new measures.
Critics have said that with the rapidly changing rules and drastic steps to make the game “safer”, the game won’t be around in 15 years. Some criticize that it will change into the National Flag Football League in which all hitting is banned.
That seems a bit extreme but I feel their concerns should not be ignored. Last year the kick-off was moved ten yards forward. This eliminated many kick-off returns because they were thought to have too many “unsafe” hits.
Luckily, while checking my email on Yahoo I stumbled across an interesting video. The video was called “NFL 2020: A glimpse of the NFL in the year 2020”. It may be only seven years away, but to sports fans that is an eternity, subject to a plethora of changes.
It gave insights into what technology is in progress and may be around in 2020 that will advance equipment and make the game safer without taking away the integrity of the collisions.
There are new prototype helmets that are similar to a sleeker, form fitted race car helmet that would offer higher levels of protection against head injuries such as concussions.
The pads would be of a tighter fit that would hug the player’s skin. They would be composed of a compressed material similar to Kevlar. It would provide much more fluid design allowing player’s quicker movements while giving maximum protection from high velocity hits.
I think it is some very interesting technology they have in the works that could save the game from more and more over-the-top rule changes.
The athletes will continue to grow in size and strength. So to adjust, the technologies in equipment have to grow and adjust as well. I don’t want to see the sport I love get reduced in drastic measures.
I would also like to see the NFL board take a step back with all the fines and penalties. Yes, there is a time and an instance when certain players need to be fined, I get that. However, it seems they have been growing fine happy within the last few years.
Everyone knows that football is a violent collision sport. That is what draws fans and spectators to want to watch it. The players know exactly what they are signing up for. Injuries are a part of the game, there is no evading the fact. That is why football players are getting paid the large amounts of money they do.
I say they should continue on developing better, even revolutionary technology that will allow players to go out and be able to play the game. That is what it is all about.
The essence of the game has always been the same. Hit that other guy hard and go score. The only difference is some of the details have changed, but the core principle remains.
What will the NFL be like in the year 2020? I am not sure. Will it be rule plagued where the smallest hard hit is flagged by officials and that player is subject to a mass of fines? I certainly hope not.
I hope that these technologies in the equipment are successful because it kills me every time when I see a flag thrown on a hit that I felt was done cleanly.
I hope those in power will rise to the challenges and opportunities of the ever evolving game rather than try and cover them up with a penalty.
What will the NFL be like in the year 2020? Hopefully it will be even better than in the year 2013. Hopefully there will continue to be record shattered performances. And I personally hope the Packers take home a few more Super Bowl rings—love me or hate me for it.
All in all, I am excited to see what the future brings. All things said as long as the game keeps improving the fans will be happy. The higher ups may make some rules that we don’t agree with but they will never take away the love of the game.
Caleb is a sophomore majoring in English