I enjoy a good clean hit when I am watching a football game as long as no one gets hurt. However, violence does not attract me to football.
Mostly, I enjoy the exciting runs, long passes, catches, interceptions, fumbles, and sacks (not because the QB gets plowed to the ground, but because it often results in a big play for my team).
My first exciting memory of football was the first time that I saw Gale Sayers run as he deftly eluded would-be-tacklers.
I also enjoy the copious amounts of strategy during the game, and the intense feeling I get when the clock ticks away precious seconds in a close game.
However, there is no denying that football is more violent than most sports. Football is more than a contact sport. It is, as Vince Lombardi said, “a collision sport.”
As Sports Reporters' Bob Ryan pointed out recently, football fans have become accustomed to football's violence. Also, at times, we overlook it because we understand and enjoy the nuances of the game.
Each year, the players in the NFL become faster and stronger. As a result, the sport becomes more violent and dangerous.
The NFL has made rule changes to protect the players. For instance, it banned helmet-to-helmet contact. However, there is not much more the NFL can do without drastically changing the game.
Another commentator on the Sports Reporters suggested making the field wider like in the Canadian Football League, but I fail to see how that would increase safety.
The violence in football inevitably takes a toll on its players as they suffer concussions, chronic leg pain, and shorter life spans. Like when we enjoy a good boxing match, we try not to think about the damage caused to participants.
But, there is no denying that the violence in football is omnipresent. I cannot predict the future of NFL violence, but it seems unlikely that the NFL will become a gentler league.
What are your thoughts?