In Marc Tracy’s article, “NFL Rules Changes: When is Football No Longer Football” (Article) Tracy discusses three changes in the game that are for the safety of the players. The three changes are not allowing ball-carriers to lower their helmets into oncoming defenders in order to gain extra yardage, no kick-offs in the Pro Bowl, and an elimination of tackling during preseason camps. Within these changes arises the discussion of whether football is going to continue to be actual football. As a person that follows sports I see numerous rule changes taking place in all major professional sports. However, I do not see as many changes taking place in college sports as professional sports and the changes are more needed in college sports.
First and foremost, most professional leagues have made it so athletes need to attend at least one year of college in order to become a professional. However, there is a problem in this; what happens if the player who was destined to make millions of dollars in the NFL suffers a career ending injury while representing his University? Sure, there are insurance policies in place for this, but the insurance does not equate to the actual possible success both in money and in life. An example of this can be seen with Marcus Lattimore, who suffered horrible knee injuries in both his sophomore and junior seasons. Lattimore suffered a gruesome injury in his junior season at South Carolina. The injury can be seen here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LHhL2e61JE) keep in mind it is very gruesome. Before this injury Lattimore was on track to be a first round draft pick, but because of it, he was drafted in the 4th round and will never see a down of NFL football. Just this past week, an Ohio State football player, Kosta Karageorge, who suffered numerous concussions was found dead in a dumpster (Kosta Karageorge).
In my opinion, this is a clear example of the NCAA abusing the players. Lattimore was on track to make at least $5 million in signing bonuses and salary in 2013 before his injury (Darren Rovell’s Opinion). Now, all he has is $1.7 million worth of insurance (about $40,000 per year of playing). This just does not seem right. Sure, Lattimore appreciated the scholarship to study at South Carolina, but he would have preferred to use his skills on the real stage. Both the NCAA and professional athletic leagues need to make up a union where they ensure the financial safety of the players. The collegiate players are making loads of money for the school, TV programs, and athletic departments, but not making any money for themselves, especially if they become injured. It should be noted that this is just one example of a player being screwed over by the NCAA and there are many cases!
Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner is not helping matters with these rule changes.
(Roger Goodell Picture)
His views on the NFL’s past rule changes can be seen in this short video: (Roger Goodell Rule Changes). Football is and by definition always will be a dangerous contact sport. Why should the NFL be able to adopt certain rule changes and the NCAA not be able to? Shouldn’t both leagues have the same rules if college football is preparing players for the NFL? Also, Goodell is changing the game of football to prevent injuries, but eventually a line will be crossed and football will not be the same. Goodell is also undermining college football and their insurance policy on players by trying to change the rules because he is saying that football is dangerous and can cause injury. Many collegiate athletes will look at his rule changes and say is it really worth it for me to play if I’m going to get seriously injured? Why should the NFL be promoting players safety more than the NCAA when the NFL players are the ones that are getting paid?
All in all, football continues to cause controversy in the United States both because of its economic impact and dangerousness. Surely, if college athletes were paid, a lot of the issues discussed would not be issues. It will be interesting to look at college football and the NFL in ten years to see how different they are because as of right now they continue to adapt from each other more and more every year.