By Jeremy Hritz
Last Wednesday night, the legendary and venerated former Steeler Terry Bradshaw made an appearance on the Jay Leno Show and gave his two cents regarding the topic of concussions and how it will impact the game of football. Quote Bradshaw, “There will be a time in the next decade when we will not see football as it is…. The contact sports will fade away.” Bradshaw also stated, similar to Kurt Warner several weeks ago, that if he had sons, he would not allow them to play football.
While Bradshaw’s views are understandable, his predicted decay of the game because of its physical nature is absurd.
There are many things being overlooked when it comes to concussions and football.
For whatever reason, it seems to be the only sport being hammered over concussions. Football isn’t even the most violent sport. What amazes me is that sports such as boxing, MMA, and rugby have not received any attention for concussions. Regardless of any argument, nobody will ever be able to argue that football is more violent or dangerous than any of these three.
At least in football, players wear protective equipment, and with quality coaching, they are taught proper technique so as to avoid injury. Sadly, due to the tremendous popularity of the NFL and its moneymaking prowess, every concussion-related issue is magnified and exacerbated.
In boxing, participants repeatedly punch each other in the head and body, where as MMA combatants enjoy the luxury of employing kicks and brutal submission holds. And rugby is nearly the equivalent to football except that its players do not wear pads. Where is the outrage or condemnation of these sports, all of which are 100 times as violent and dangerous? To make things more ridiculous, youngsters between ages eight and ten compete in Junior Olympic Boxing.
Where is the outrage about this?
The ultimate reality is that injuries can occur in any sport, as they are simply an inherent risk in competitive activity. Proactively, the NFL and other levels of competition in football are taking the necessary steps to make it a safer game, and while it will never be risk-free, making changes based on new research will help to make it as safe as it possibly can be.
Bradshaw is afraid of one or two consequences: a) as the game is made safer, it will lose its appeal, b) the negative attention garnered from football-related concussions will drive people away from playing the game.
While both of these are valid concerns, would legends and veterans of the NFL passively allow the league to become watered down to the point where it resembled nothing more than flag football? And Bradshaw makes the assumption that families everywhere would not want their children to play football for fear of concussions or injury, but changes to the game are protecting players more. And isn’t everything that we do accompanied by some sort of risk? The number of fatalities as a result of car accidents is staggering, yet we do not see families prohibiting their children from driving.
If anything, the sport of football will continue to grow and expand in future years, and exceed the popularity it has already achieved. And with all due respect to basketball, baseball, and soccer, nothing will be able to match the intensity of the 60-minute game that truly is America’s passion. Sorry Terry, but the only fading we’ll see from the NFL will be by a receiver in the end zone.