Oct 16 2015
A few years ago, my buddies and I went to a concert. After being inside the gate for about 15 minutes, a bouncer came over and told my buddy he had to take off his red hat because people might think he was in a gang. My buddy refused and turned to talk away. The bouncer then took his massive MagLite flashlight and cracked my friend in the side of the head, knocking him out. My friend never saw it coming.
In layman’s terms, we call this a sucker punch and it infuriates us. In legal terms, it’s called assault. I imagine you have some anger inside yourself about this story.
Now consider this. College and professional football is becoming almost unwatchable at times. The strength and power of the players means that at least once per game, we’re seeing someone go out with a concussion or other major injury. Too many of these hits are occurring on plays where the injured player is defenseless (i.e. not able to protect themselves from a hit). It’s no different than a sucker punch. And yet, I can hear the refrain from people who disagree, “This is a violent game and you’re signing up for hard hits when you play.”
Then what need is there for any rules involving physical contact? Chop blocks? That should be part of the game. Hits in the back? That should be part of the game. Horsecollar tackles? That should be part of the game.
Except they aren’t. Why? Because players get severely injured in those instances.
These defenseless plays are no different. Guys are going down with concussions and season-ending injuries. And it’s affecting them for the rest of their lives!
People say, “Well, back in the day when I played…” Back in the day when we played, we weighed 170 and ran the 40 in 5.5 seconds. These guys are beasts! It’s simple physics of force and deceleration that the way they hit each other now inflicts far more damage than it used to.
My concern about this isn’t logic in the consistency of rules or even protection of players (although that’s part of it). This is a matter of our humanity, brothers and sisters! These men are playing a game. It’s a game. And we care more about our team and the penalty they take (or the “purity” of the game) than we do about the life of the other person. Dude goes down with a concussion and people are in the stands yelling, “THIS IS BULL CRAP!” They’re booing the call when the player who got blown up is lying unconscious on the ground.
We need to be careful in this country. There is no created thing on earth with more honor and glory than another human being. As our games change, our care for people needs to keep pace.