Much to Burke’s Dismay, the NFL Needs to Change

After reading about the ideology of Edmund Burke, followed by the article by Marc Tracy about the potential future changes in football, it got me thinking about sports and how they revolutionize and change over time. That led me to a conclusion and a rebuttal to Tracy’s argument that soon football won’t even look like football: what if that’s a good thing? What if the NFL cutting down on kickoffs is good for the longevity of the league? I love football as much as the next guy, and would hate to see these changes radically occur overnight, but they might actually turn out to be a good thing. Burke argues against radical change, but what if change happens in small doses that don’t seem radical at the time? I generally fall on the conservative side when it comes to rule changes in sports, but maybe those changes are necessary.

As exciting as kickoffs are, more changes might need to be made to them in order to keep NFL players safe

With all the outrage and drama surrounding the NFL and its concussion problem, it’s no doubt the league needs to do something to cut down on the risk of concussions. When over 4,500 of your former employees sue a company over something, it becomes a big deal. As exciting as kickoffs are in football, they are plays with a high injury risk, and something needs to be done to fix them. When you have 11 (well really 10, the kicker doesn’t count) full grown, 250-pound men flying full speed down a field with the intent on hitting one defenseless return man and some blockers, there are bound to be some injuries. Football traditionalists like Tracy would be upset, but in order to ensure the longevity of the game, changes must be made.

In other sports, we have seen changes implemented in order to protect the safety of its players. The NHL recently instilled a policy that takes away the “staged fights” in a game. While everyone loves a good hockey fight, the staged ones are dangerous and frankly just plain stupid. Even in the NBA, where there isn’t nearly as much contact as hockey or football, this used to be common. Now, it’s not. In baseball, the play at the plate was always one of the most exciting parts of a game. Now, it still is, but it’s safer. The NFL, commissioner Roger Goodell, and all current and future leaders of the sport need to follow the lead of the other major professional sports in America and try to make their game safer. If not, people will eventually notice how dangerous the sport is, and fewer and fewer kids will play at a young age, leading to lower quality NFL games, because its players would not have played the sport while growing up. If Edmund Burke was around today and he was a football fan, he probably wouldn’t like all the talk and the movements to change football rules. But if Burke had kids who wanted to play the sport, maybe he would consider allowing these changes, because ultimately, changes in the rules would keep the players safe.

Roger Goodell and the NFL are at a crossroads in terms of player safety and popularity of his sport

-Natan Gorod

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6 thoughts on “Much to Burke’s Dismay, the NFL Needs to Change

  1. I agree with your point that rule changes in sports are necessary, and this is especially the case in the NFL. It is the job of the commissioner, owners, and the rest of the league to protect its players, and would be foolish to believe that the way the game is currently played is completely safe. However, would too many changes take away from the true essence of the game? Football is supposed to be a violent sport played by some of the best, and most physical, athletes in the world. Some have joked that it is only a matter of time before the National Football League is played with flags in place of actual tackling to prevent more injuries. Obviously this wouldn’t be done, but it seems that the league is headed in a direction that the will change the sport, perhaps for the worse.

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  2. Although I was extremely interested on the different views that you brought to the table on this topic, I do not fully understand your arguments. To start off, the NFL has implamented rules and regulations on multiple branches of the game. On a kickoff, the ball was moved up five more yard to make it easier for the kicker to kick the ball in the end zone. There has been a massive change in the way people tackle and make big hits. If a player leads with his head and makes head to head contact, he is immediately ejected and is up for more suspension. I really would of liked to see more facts about injuries and how you talk about lower quality of NFL games. I want to also comment on how the NFL will always be a source of entertainment. I do believe that rules and regulations will change and the game is going to change but the NFL will never fold.

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  3. I question how these changes could be made to football in small doses. How do kickoffs be eliminated slowly? Or how is hitting changed gradually? Although I don’t disagree that sports should be as safe as possible, when safety measures begin to change the fundamentals of the game I think it is time to reconsider. Eliminating staged fights from hockey doesn’t take away from it being hockey, for example fights are not allowed in kids’s leagues but their games are still hockey. Football however without hitting and kickoffs is no longer football. People already know how dangerous football is and know what is being risked when they engage in it. With the proper equipment and training the game is as safe as it can be while still being football.

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  4. Natan,

    This is a very good blog with many interesting points. I do agree that, as a whole, football is unsafe and does need some changes. However, a change as dramatic as the elimination of the kickoff is not the answer, at least to me. This is for two reasons. First, coaches always split the game into three “phases” – offense, defense, and special teams. If you were to eliminate the kickoff, you would be eliminating the biggest part of one of the three phases, which would be far too drastic a change to keep fans happy. Also, many players are only on rosters because of their ability on special teams, some specifically because they are adept at returning kicks. With the elimination of the kickoff, that would eliminate the need to a return specialist, which some teams have as a player who do not see the field on offense or defense. This would take away jobs from NFL players who deserve a spot on a roster somewhere.

    Also, another problem I see (this isn’t going against your argument, just going off on a tangent here) is that the NFL is stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to rule changes and future generations of football. Some people, like you said, may deem the game as too unsafe and will not allow their kids to play, thus lowering the future talent pool and quality of games. However, other parents may be traditionalists who would prevent their children from playing if there are too many rule changes and it no longer is considered “football”. This would have the same effect. Ultimately, I believe the NFL has to walk a very fine line between safety and traditional rules, and they ultimately will struggle, causing the NFL to fold (at least 15-20 years away, but I believe it is coming in our lifetime).

    This was a very good blog though and it really got me, and obviously a few other people, thinking. Great job!

    -Korey Burdman

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  5. I certainly agree that safety is to be valued in professional sports, and it seems to me that the longevity of professional sports is threatened if changes are not made. I am not entirely certain if eliminating kickoffs in football is a good idea, though. True, it certainly would make football safer, but I think there must be other solutions than eliminating an iconic and exciting part of the game. For example, the Tracy article mentions moving the spot from which the kicker kicks in order to increase touchbacks and reduce injury. I simply think that more options other than eliminating the kickoff should be considered.

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  6. You are calling for changes that occur in “small doses” but i am a bit confused as to what you mean by that. Later, you seem to argue that kick offs need to be downright eliminated, which seems like a large change that would happen at once. Also, you parallel the NBA and how it now treats violent plays, but it wasn’t like clothslining a player was ever allowed anyway. It is just now penalized more harshly. I agree with you that some precautions need to be made in the NFL to keep the players safer, though, just don’t necessarily follow your argument.

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