It seems that since there just isn’t anything more pressing going on for the president of the United States, because he’s now decided to chime in about the violence in football.
First off, let me state that yes, I do know that football has a level of violence to it. Secondly, the violence in football pales in comparison to other sports such as hockey and MMA. Thirdly, considering that even golfers can injure themselves, isn’t it safe to say that every sport out there has elements of danger?
Anyway, according to a New Republic interview with Barack Obama, the president expressed his fear for the safety of young people playing the sport.
“I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football. And I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence. In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won't have to examine our consciences quite as much.
“I tend to be more worried about college players than NFL players in the sense that the NFL players have a union, they're grown men, they can make some of these decisions on their own, and most of them are well-compensated for the violence they do to their bodies. You read some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth and then have nothing to fall back on. That's something that I'd like to see the NCAA think about.”
Concussions and head injuries have gained a notoriety in sports such as hockey and football in recent years, from the professional level all the way down to the prep level. We now know how damaging repeatedly being smacked in the head can be and there have been various efforts to reduce the risks of head injuries. The point here is this: Even if the youngsters are wrapped in bubble wrap, there is still a chance that they might sustain an injury.
There is no way to make football a low- or no-contact sport. Sure, lets change the rules and make it so that all football is flag football. Oh wait, there’s still the chance that you might accidentally bump noggins with someone while playing.
Parents have the decision whether or not they will allow their children to play football growing up, knowing full well their child will most likely happen to get injured. If the child continues on playing football at a collegiate level, that turns into their choice since most college freshmen are at least 18 years old. Last time I checked, being 18 meant you are “legally” an adult. They know the risks and are still willing to put their bodies on the line.
I would like to discuss the point brought up by the president mentioning how college athletes have nothing to fall back on if they do get injured. Here’s a thought: They are in college. Perhaps they could just fall back on their college education they’ve been working on. Shocking idea isn’t it. A collegiate athlete actually having to turn their focus back fully to their studies.
Now back to the whole examining our consciences thing. When is the last time that you’ve gone to a football game, seen someone get injured and said to yourself, “I’m never watching this horribly violent sport again,” and then left in the middle of the game? Yeah, the answer to that is a big, fat NEVER. This isn’t the gladiator games we’re talking about, this is football. It’s a hard hitting, very physical sport, but for the most part injuries are not as common as one would expect.
The world of sports is chock full of its own politics. Why would we want to add real life politics into the mix as well? Perhaps Washington, D.C., and the president should stick to what they are good at, meddling with our Constitutional rights and involving us in other countries’ problems.
Leave football alone, Mr. President. Just leave it alone.