With the current standing of support for the National Football League and the need for change, for better or for worse, in the sport, is the NFL witnessing a complete overhaul? As the NFL’s competition committee continues to change rules trying to make the game safer and females continue to prove the world they are ready to “tackle” football in their next step towards equality, alterations for “Roger Goodell’s house” might be underway. In addition, how would great philosophers and theorists like Thomas Hobbes and Jean Jacque Rousseau feel about this? In the footsteps of President Obama’s 2008 presidential election campaign slogan, “change” is on its way to the NFL and the entirety of American’s “new” pastime.
In Marc Tracy’s article about NFL Rules Changes, he notes about very important aspects of football that might be eliminated, notably kickoffs. First changing the kickoff from the 30 yard line to 35 yard line, the NFL effectively diminished the likelihood of one of the most exciting plays for the elimination of one of the most brutal parts of the game. Hoping to reduce the speed of collisions, the NFL caused many return specialists to no longer take the risk for the chance of a spectacular touchdown and instead opt for the expected touchback. Second outlawing helmet-to-helmet hits, the NFL brought about complaints from players and fans alike in order to prevent concussions. Banning runningbacks from lowering their helmets, removing tackling during practice camps, striping the Pro-Bowl of the kickoff, and flagging excessively whenever the game became too “aggressive,” the NFL has shown they want change. Is football still football? Are we headed to a two-hand tackle game? With the current rule changes and excessive penalties I see every Sunday, it sure looks like it.
Other than player safety and saving money from concussion law-suits, the NFL and football in general has hit lots of criticism for its inherent sexism. This week, all of America and also the whole Twitter-verse was in shock watching young Sam Gordon make her triumphant return to football once again. As an 11 year-old year-old girl catching touchdown passes and runs right past her male counterparts, the world stood in awe at the greatness from this “football player.” Getting tackled and hit, she got right back up and broke some “ankles” juking the opposing teams and scored points. Just like Shelby Osborn, “college football’s first female defensive back”, Sam Gordon and other female football players give strength and inspiration to other females interested in football. Maybe as a kicker or even as a quarterback, females in the NFL might be an reality, or maybe the creation of a WNFL, just like the WNBA, might spur interest for more females to join in on the touchdowns, interceptions, and field goals.
Personally, football and the NFL have been a part of my life since I can walk. As a Jets fan, watching Brad Smith, an elite kick returner, score touchdowns changing the entire morale of the game made Sundays not only interesting, but also inspirational. However, the NFL’s new change are understandable with player safety and life after football for players. Even though, football is not the football from before, I continue to watch every Sunday until February for the love of the game.
Just like Hobbes’s social contract theory, the players and the NFL will do whats in their best interests. Football is “nasty, brutish, and short.” Self-protection and self-preservation for the NFL to avoid pain and misery, these new rules and contracts fall straight into Hobbes’s point of view. Players enforced by the sovereign (NFL) live in constant fear of safety, security, and order, and this absolute sovereign aka Roger Goodell makes the rules (rights) to bring morality and directive to football (or whatever this new-type of football is called).
Living with a three varsity sport sister in high school, I was very accustomed to females and sports. My sister played every sport offered for females (soccer, lacrosse, softball, tennis, and even volleyball). However, she never played football competitively due to this one restriction of gender.
I still remember watching my sister play football for our high-school’s annual powder-puff game. A game where the guys and girls switch roles (girls play football/guys cheerlead on the sidelines) to bring awareness to a cause (usually breast-cancer awareness). She played quarterback and completely shocked the crowd when she threw a 60 yard touchdown pass to her best-friend for the win. It was not only a win for her team. It was a win for females in sports, a win for feminism. Just like Rousseau’s social contract, guaranteeing equality for the “general will.” Just like Sam Gordon, Shelby Osborn, and my sister, Rousseau favored equality and people’s sovereignty in government and in sports.
In all, the NFL and football in ready for change. For equality, for safety, and for progress, football is changing.