Jan. 27, 2014
It has been unfolding gradually on our screens and in our stadiums: Professional sports in the United States are being stripped of their former glory. These once proud gladiatorial games are subtly being replaced with coddled versions and pop warner, play nice platitudes.
There was a time when the harder the hit a player could deliver the better they were doing their job. Or when blasting into home base was commendable since players were weighing the risks and deciding to go for it.
Now this try or die attitude is being reviewed and removed from sports.
Of course, in certain ways this makes sense. Many retired football players are stepping up and claiming the way they played led to serious medical issues. They are also claiming the league is at fault.
No, it’s not the league’s fault. You signed the contract; you got paid ungodly sums of money. What did you think was going to happen after years of playing a professional contact sport?
And yet, in the face of commonsense and personal responsibility, the league caves and creates new rules. One of the newest for the National Football League is the defenseless player rule.
Are you kidding me? Defenseless? Is this not football, our acknowledged, hard hitting pastime?
I know, I get it; we want to protect the players from substantiating injuries like broken necks and compounding concussions. However, we’re talking about professional football and players who should understand their bodies are on the line every play by their own choice. The risks they take while receiving millions of dollars are ultimately up to them.
The effectiveness of this new rule can also be argued. From what I can tell, all we’re doing with these players who get hit is sit them out and pay them money for being on injured reserved.
Consider another pro sport: Major League Baseball. One of the least aggressive limited-contact sports is set to remove home plate collisions, pending a player approval this year.
It will probably pass, and, for all the right intent behind it, implementation will be difficult and the logic is off. Catchers, who are normally to blame for intervening with the runner, incur the majority of injuries so it seems to me they get what they deserve.
Bear in mind also that it’s ultimately up to the umpire what gets called and what doesn’t, and consistency of calls is every fan’s eternal mourning.
Gone are the days of hard hits and tremendous steals smashing into home plate. Now is the time for countless committees designed specifically to overlook the “safeness” of the game, add rules, place more medics on sidelines and sap the enthusiasm from loyal fans.
All this adds up to a reduced experience. And what’s worse is that is that it only seems to be spiraling further out of control. Eventually we’ll be forced to pay ungodly amounts for tickets to the Bubble Wrap Bowl sponsored by the National Safety Council and Mother’s Against American Fun. It’s simply a matter of time.