NFL, the “no fun league”

The National Football League is one of the wealthiest sports leagues in the world.

The NFL itself is worth more than $8 billion a year; however, the spin-off revenue from concession sales, television and radio advertisements, merchandise and other related profit generators rake in plenty more.

With all of this money up for grabs, the athletes and coaches of football turn into something else. For example, a quarterback or star receiver, instead of being just an athlete, becomes the spokesperson for multi-million dollar business franchises.

He and his endorsement of a product has become an asset for a company – an asset worth protecting.

As such, in 2010, new rules of the NFL do not protect the integrity of the game – a hard-hitting and naturally violent sport – but rather the business interests of the teams. In a sport known for vicious hits and basic battles of man-to-man strength, not allowing this violence takes away from the game because the money has taken priority. Keeping the $12-million-a-year player safe is more important than letting the game unfold naturally, in its violent, original form.

The National Football league is, in effect, removing itself from the roots of the game on a continuing basis, and people are starting to take notice.

“The game at every other level is played for the right reasons, no money, just the 12 against 12 games we all grew up loving,” says Concurrent Education first-year student Brock Hicks, who played high school football for the Donald A. Wilson Gators of Whitby.

Headshots in the NFL have garnered plenty of media coverage over the past few seasons and are the most shining example of the NFL insulting the original, gritty rules of the game.

From a young age, football players around North America are coached to hit and stop their opponents at all costs. Then, finally, when a player works his way up through the ranks of football to the NFL, he’s told something different; to take it easy on the game’s most expensive assets – offensive playmakers. I am aware that the NFL has lots of money worth protecting but have they forgotten why they have so much profit in the first place?

People love the hard-hitting sport of football! If players did not get thrown around and knocked about, people would choose to watch golf, a sport where the biggest danger to a star athlete is an estranged spouse. This betrayal of football must stop. That being said, rules should not be so lax as to endanger players, but they should at least allow a hit to go without a $25,000 fine, like that handed out to Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison on two separate occasions this season.

While watching clips of these so called “headshots” by Harrison and other defenders like Houston Texans defensive back Dunta Robinson, it can be argued that there was no stopping the head-to-head contact from occurring. Sure, the number of concussions has increased in the NFL. However that is a result of increased strength and physical condition of players.

Some players are in favor of the rules, but you won’t find many of those on the defensive side of the ball. For example, Cleveland Browns veteran Linebacker Scott Fujita told ESPN, “It’s just funny because they’re talking about banning these hits and suspending players. But these are the same hits they’re showing on every highlight, NFL Network.”

“They’re fining guys for that, flagging guys for that, but they show that all over the commercials advertising the game,” Fujita continued. “It’s interesting. It’s kind of a paradox. I’m absolutely saying they’re being completely hypocritical.”

The job of the defense is to hit and tackle the offensive players, no matter the circumstances, to prevent them from scoring. This can be a vicious practice based on the competitive nature of this game that can come down to yards, even inches. Attention must be paid to the fact that not just defensive, but ALL players are up in arms about this issue. Football just isn’t football without these hits or without the violent competition that makes it so widely popular.

The league is not creating rules to protect the game, but rather stretching them to protect their moneymakers. That, in and of itself, is worthier of a fine.

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