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Is Football Too Dangerous?

I think I can guess where the majority of our readership will fall on this one, but here goes: should a game as dangerous as football be encouraged among children? And if not, should the rules be changed to make it safer?

The Economist quotes President Obama on this question:

I’m A big football fan, but I have to tell you, if I had a son I’d have to think long and hard before I let him play football. [T]hose of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence. In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won’t have to examine our consciences quite as much.

(The Economist notes that rule changes intended to mitigate the violence “will not be to spare those of us with tender consciences. It will be to avoid getting sued.”)

Bernard Pollard, a walking act of God and safety for the victorious Baltimore Ravens, made it clear to The Baltimore Sun that in his view, any modification of the sport is a big mistake:

Pollard accepts the fines he regularly racks up for illegal hits, including a recent $15,250 fine for smashing into the helmet and neck area of Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker, as the price of doing business.

“It’s a car crash every play,” Pollard said. “You can’t take away the intensity. This is a grown man’s game. You’re going to feel it. I enjoy this game. I love giving you my best shot. We play with a certain edge. That’s something everyone knows about this defense.

“I don’t play thinking. The way the league is trying to go, they want you to think about the hits and the shots and all of this other stuff. It’s an offensive game and they’re trying to move it in a certain direction. In Baltimore, we don’t roll that way. We’re going to hit you.”

The author of the Economist piece points out that his personal concern over his sons playing football lies not in some apprehension regarding the treatment they might receive someday on the professional gridiron — “I’m 5’7” and take 12.5 seconds to run the 40-yard dash; absent some seriously recessive genes that emerge pretty quickly, my boys are not NFL material” — but that even youth practice entails too much bone- and head-jarring activity. 

I’m no nanny stater, but I know where I stand on this. It’s where you’d imagine your average Jewish mother would stand on her kids being regularly slammed into by other, larger kids. What say you?