Change or Revolution?

In Mark Tracy’s brief article discussing proposed (and enacted) changes in professional football, “NFL Rule Changes: When is Football No Longer Football,” he discusses several possible changes to the game of football. These alterations include the banning of lowering one’s helmet to break a tackle, extremely limited contact in preseason camps, and the removal of the kick off from the pro bowl.

Now, in my opinion the third of those three rules is the most alarming. The first two are changes, nothing

Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown in the 2006 Super Bowl
Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown in the 2006 Super Bowl

more, nothing less, and they will have very limited effect on the way the game is played. However, the possibility of the kick off being removed is more than a change, it is an alteration to a part of the game that has not only existed for over a century, but has provided some of the most iconic moments in professional football: a huge part of American culture. In fact, as a Chicago Bears fan growing up near Chicago, I was able to experience one of my most memorable moments of spectating (albeit via television) simply because the kick off is part of the game of football (image to the left). By removing it, the game will not only be intrinsically different, but will also no longer be capable of providing such moments.

It is very possible that the great Irish philosopher Edmund Burke would agree with me when saying that this particular change would be detrimental to a long-developed game which is inherently American. He may even assert that any of the proposed changes discussed in Tracy’s article would be foolish to impose.

BurkeIn his “Reflections on the Revolutions in France,” Burke states that “revolutions destroy the fabric of old society.” Because the French system of monarchical government was not developed over the course of a short period of time, but rather years and years of development and experience, Burke asserts that revolting and attempting to severely alter this government is reckless, ill-advised, and likely detrimental to French society as a whole.

So how would Burke look at these NFL rule changes? Perhaps the two less severe changes–the banning of helmet lowering and limited preseason contact–would simply fall under the category of natural alterations that occur over the course of anything’s (whether it be government or sports) development. It is likely, however, that Burke would see the removal of the kickoff from the game of football as a revolution that could be paralleled to that of France’s in the late eighteenth century. Maybe Burke wouldn’t be a football fan if he was around today. Either way, I guess we’ll never know.


4 thoughts on “Change or Revolution?

  1. I agree with your post that eliminating the kickoff from football would no longer make football as entertaining. As a bears fan myself as well, watching Devin Hester return the kickoffs was truly one of the better parts of the game. Your connection to Burke is also very good, for it truly shows that making a drastic change could result in destruction; therefore eliminating the kickoff could decrease the entertainment of the game. Football is an amazing sport that cannot change.


  2. I agree with what you are saying completely. Not only are kick off returns an important part of the game, but as the commenter above me stated, they are truly one of the most exciting parts of the game. While it may be that even now many kick offs are downed in the end zone, when a returner does decide to run for it, it is an extremely exciting moment in the game giving a team momentum for the rest of their possession, if they are able to get good field position following the return. I really appreciated the connection to Burke in this article, and I completely agree that he would disagree with these rule changes. Sooner or later (If rule changes do continue) , this game will stop being american football and it will lose the support of even it’s most avid fans. Now don’t get me wrong, I love football, but I can’t imagine my family sitting down on thanksgiving to watch a game of what is practically flag football. The action and violence makes the game interesting and truly makes American football, american football.


  3. The NfL is trying to chance the league to become safer for the players. They are changing the game in ways that were unimaginable 10 years ago. Eliminating kickoffs would make the game less exciting. Fans love kickoffs, as it gives players the chance to make crazy moves and big hits. The NFL must realize that there will always be some risk in playing football. By taking away such an essential part of the game, they are taking away from the enjoyment of watching football.


  4. I agree with you that removing kickoffs would no longer make football ‘football’ because it has always been apart of the game. The excitement of a return is a huge part of football. The returner could take it back for a TD, turn the ball over, or get tackled behind the 20. There are so many different outcomes of a kickoff that removing this aspect of the game would be detrimental to the sport. Burke would view the removal of kickoffs as a radical change and he would oppose such a move.


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