Burke and Football

Every Sunday for about 20 weeks, I sit on my couch for about 8 hours and watch the best sport alive, football. As a lover of the sport, I truly appreciate the game for its amazing plays, big hits and sophisticated defensive schemes that coaches employ. According to Mark Tracy’s article NFL Rules Changes: When Is Football No Longer Football, the NFL has adopted 3 new rules to help make the game safer: banning ball-carriers from lowering their helmets into oncoming defenders in an attempt to break free of the tackle, getting rid of kick-offs in the Pro Bowl, and eliminating tackling during preseason camps.

By implementing these rules, the NFL is taking away a tremendous amount from the game. Edmund Burke, the father of conservatism, would also be against implementing such rules. In Burke’s Reflections on the French Revolution in France, he states that slow and gradual change is the best way to yield positive results; revolutionary change is counterproductive and will lead to unrest and disorganization. The NFL is a game known for its physicality, a main feature that attracts so many viewers. Disallowing ball carriers to lower their helmets and taking away tackling from preseason camps takes away from the physicality that fans love to see. While these rules do improve the safety of players, it diminishes the sport as a whole. In addition, the NFL is taking away kick-offs during the pro bowl. Devin Hester was known for electrifying the crowds with his ability to return kick offs.

Devin Hester, the NFL's best kick returner, is getting set to return the kickoff. (via Wikimedia)
Devin Hester, the NFL’s best kick returner, is getting set to return the kickoff. (via Wikimedia)

They have brought excitement to the game and have created a new dynamic to the game. By taking it away, it will only make the game less exciting and appealing to fans. The NFL should not make such drastic changes to the game. Football players understand that the sport they play is a physical one that carries risk to their health. If all these rules are implemented, is it still really football?

A couple years ago, the NFL proposed a new rule that would punish teams for their players’ multiple flagrant hits, resulting in thousands of dollars of fines. Dubbed the “Steelers Rule”, players were outraged, calling football soft. In 2010, all pro linebacker James Harrison was fined $100,000 for his hits. He took out his frustration on twitter, saying “I’m absolutely sure now after this last rule change that the people making the rules at the NFL are idiots”.

James Harrison playing against the Baltimore Ravens.
James Harrison playing against the Baltimore Ravens.

James’ teammate Lamar Woodley was also disgusted with the new rule, stating, “Football is turning soft now. Too many fines. Too many penalties protecting the quarterback every single play. Defensive guys can’t be defensive guys no more”. As seen, many of the players already are unhappy with the current rules. Additional rules would drastically change the game, something Burke would be completely against.


One thought on “Burke and Football

  1. As an avid football watcher myself I found your post to be extremely interesting. I agree that Burke would not support this rapid changing and implementation of new rules. However, I do believe that these new rules are most certainly justified. I think Mill would argue that these new rules are justified. When the actions of one are going to harm another then that act should not be allowed. There is growing evidence to support the growing issue of concussions and even paralysis as a result of the types of hits that the NFL is making rules against. It only has recently been brought to light how dangerous these hits are. These hits are harmful and there has to be rules against such hits to protect players from harm done by others. Overall, I think you wrote a very strong blog, but there is other justification for the rules that you write about.


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