should football rules be changed due to the increasing cases of concussions
American football is one of the country’s preferred pastimes but also one of the most dangerous. It is characterized by intense speeds and hard tackles. It is for this reason that the sport is conducive to several serious injuries. However, the one that has gained much attention is a concussion and the resulting traumatic brain injury. In the year 2012, the National Football League (NFL) recorded a total of 189 concussions in the course of the regular season. This translates to about 11 concussions every week (Bernstein 1). It is for this reason that the NFL introduced rules regarding the wearing of helmets to reduce the number of injuries and related complications. The system is intended to work with a player being watched by not only the medical team but also the officiating staff, an expert observer and plenty of cameras that give every angle of play. However, the changing of the football rules does not work, but rather takes so much away from the game.
Why Changing Rules Doesn’t Work
The NFL has undertaken measures to improve its concussion protocol. However, the system is not working. The number of concussions has not reduced as intended by the NFL. Factors such as fines, rule changes and improved equipment have done little to reduce the number of concussions suffered in the NFL. Concussions are not visible like other physical injuries. A player may appear normal yet they might have a traumatic brain injury. The outward signs that include loss of muscle control and altered speech rarely occur.
Helmet-to-helmet hits are easy, but lesser blows can be more complex. A closer look at the workings of the observer and the independent neurologist reveals that the program does not work the way it is intended to. The observer is normally a trainer with a high definition screen and can request the neurologist at the sideline to evaluate any cases of hard hits. However, a clear follow-up mechanism lacks.
While the rule changes have the intention of making the game safer, they have also changed football altogether. The game cannot remain football without tackles. In the process of saving the sport, NFL could be killing it. For example, the ‘crown of the helmet’ rule means that both defensive and offensive players can no longer be permitted to lower their helmets before initiating contact outside the tackle box. This means that running backs cannot drop their hats and bully their opponents anymore. There are many other rules that have also been changed. For example, the 3-man wedge on returns was made illegal, kickoffs were taken forward, and a player cannot launch himself through the air at a receiver. These may attract a foul, penalty or even suspension. This has seen many players take to the field with too much caution that is not helpful to the game.
Sport is competition and competition come with the rivalry. Across football, fans love plays that involve hits and tackles because of the adrenaline rush. That is why when rules are changed to ban such crucial aspects of the game, then the fans are only left with disappointment. It is like boxing outlawing knockouts. Football and tackles are closely connected. Contact has always been an essential part of the game as are touchdowns. However, fans prefer tackles to touchdowns.
According to Davenport (1), the NFL book of rules looks much like a tax code and has become too complex for its good. For example, the 2-minute fumble rule is an overcomplicated rule that only makes normal play complex. Many of the rules are intended to either keep players safe or prevent a team from having an advantage. No advantage arises when the ball is fumbled backwards but rather forward. According to Bernstein (1), the many efforts to make the sports safe have ended up turning games into a complicated arrangement of starts and fits. Officials have been given too much room to make their calls, and this has led to many judgment calls in a particular game. This is frustrating to both the players and fans.
The attempt to make the league too cosmetic and create the impression of a safety campaign robs the sport of its honesty. All sports are dangerous whether it be soccer, rugby or racing. The dangerous aspect of these games is what makes them tick. For example, the plain honesty about NFL is that players should be smashing into each other as hard as possible. However, the pretence that the players are not trying to hurt each other takes the spice out of the game. It becomes a boring game that is less enjoyable to watch. It is like watching rugby without the hard tackles, or watching boxing where Mayweather and Pacquiao only tickle each other. Of course, no one enjoys pain associated with any sport. This is why many sports have rules governing them as well as disciplinary measures arising from the breaking of such rules. However, imposing too many rules in the name of making the sport safer only serves to make the NFL less enjoyable to watch.
Bernstein, Dan. NFL Less Watchable than Ever. CBS, 2015.
Davenport, Gary. Is the NFL Becoming too Soft? Bleacher Report, 2013,