FanDuel - WFBC

April 24, 2013

John Kass: American Football Industry is on its Deathbed: "Football is dead in America," Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass writes today. "But it's not the lawyers who are the death of football. Blaming lawyers misses the point. Like their counterparts in nature, lawyers are merely the cleanup crew. What finishes football are the parents of future football players. The NFL desperately needs American parents. Not as fans, but as suppliers of young flesh."

posted by rcade to football at 05:48 PM - 27 comments

My youngest son plays Little League and soccer, and a neighbor told him yesterday he ought to join him in football. He couldn't have less interest. He sees it as a sport where people get hurt and their brains get damaged.

posted by rcade at 05:50 PM on April 24

Kind of a wonky link, rcade. Gotta have a "digital plus" membership to the Trib to read the column. And I really wanted to read it, because any column that equates members of my profession to scavengers is certainly even-handed and insightful.

posted by tahoemoj at 06:12 PM on April 24

My three sons play minor football and basketball, and community soccer. The oldest (11 yrs) loves football. He views basketball as something to do when its not football season, and soccer as a fun time out with friends. The other two boys enjoy it but don't love it like their brother does.

I guess I'm a flesh supplier?

posted by Miles1996 at 06:42 PM on April 24

This has been predicted as coming for years now. Ten years from now football will be a vastly different sport.

Now here's an interesting thought: Will football still have enough "flesh" to continue? I would imagine it will. But will there be a quality drop off in the talent pool? With less players, weaker players stand a better chance of making it. Will the quality of the game deteriorate?

I don't really care as I don't watch football, but it's going to be interesting.

posted by Drood at 06:50 PM on April 24

Note to all - football isn't the only sport where injuries occur.

Guess the story got Kass some mileage, though.

posted by cixelsyd at 08:12 PM on April 24

True Cixel, but it's the only sport, hockey aside, where outright piling into your opponent as hard as you can is encouraged.

Yes there's injuries, but they're not to the degree of football which is essentially like being in a car crash every play. (Okay, a stretch, but still...)

posted by Drood at 09:04 PM on April 24

Will the quality of the game deteriorate?

Does that matter? Colleges still pack their stadiums and get massive TV deals. But by extension, does that change the calculation about the value of a college scholarship?

posted by etagloh at 11:12 PM on April 24

Maybe you could recruit NFL players from other countries.

posted by owlhouse at 05:51 AM on April 25

Kind of a wonky link, rcade. Gotta have a "digital plus" membership to the Trib to read the column.

I'm not a subscriber and it let me read it with a free account. I updated the link to one that might work better.

posted by rcade at 08:05 AM on April 25

I'm not a subscriber and it let me read it with a free account.

"Premium content only currently available to those users in the United States."

I didn't want to read anything about problems in your 0.3048meterball.

posted by grum@work at 08:15 AM on April 25

Note to all - football isn't the only sport where injuries occur.

It is the youth sport where the most injuries occur -- at twice the rate of the next sport, basketball. About 63,000 high school athletes suffer brain injuries every year.

I don't know that football will die or that youth football will fade. But these things were never said when I was growing up, and they're commonplace today. I think seeing star athletes with scrambled brains and desperate lives in middle age is not easy to forget. Nobody would want their child to go through what Jim McMahon is enduring, and he was once the idol of millions. He's 53 years old and suffering early-stage dementia.

posted by rcade at 08:18 AM on April 25

the only sport, hockey aside, where outright piling into your opponent as hard as you can is encouraged

With all this Canadian pride in the thread, aren't you forgetting your national (summer) sport? That was the only reason I played.

It is the youth sport where the most injuries occur -- at twice the rate of the next sport, basketball

Not quite: "nearly twice the injury rate as the next most popular sport, basketball". It's entirely possible that football is much more dangerous than every other sport, but that doesn't say so. It compares the injury rate to a fairly low-contact sport simply because basketball is the next most popular and there's no information about how they defined "popular" because the article simply cites "previous studies".

posted by yerfatma at 10:38 AM on April 25

With all this Canadian pride in the thread, aren't you forgetting your national (summer) sport? That was the only reason I played.

yerfatma -Thats the same reason I started playing. Having coached since 2005, I've seen youth lacrosse ( at least state side) take a lot of steps to reduce head injuries. Up to 6th grade, hard contact is banned. Any brush of the helmet or body check will get a flag. The leagues are really focusing on teaching skills over hitting. They are also drumming out the bloodthirsty coaches.

7/8th grade allows some body checks but if a kid get laid out with more force than necessary, flags come flying in from everywhere. Its not uncommon to see 3 minute penalties for regular ball down body check. Any helmet contact harder than a light brush is penalty too.

High school is following a similar progression. The stuff we did when we started playing would probably get us kicked out of most games today (the hits after goals or crashing in to the pile on a ball down).

posted by umrlax at 12:35 PM on April 25

It's entirely possible that football is much more dangerous than every other sport, but that doesn't say so.

Yes it does: "Football is the top scorer when it comes to racking up sport-related injuries." Other stories I've read about studies have the same finding. Football causes the most injuries in U.S. youth sports.

posted by rcade at 12:44 PM on April 25

I don't know about youth league lacrosse, but the sport in general has pretty strict contact rules regardless of the age level. Hits to the head are penalized in almost every circumstance - I always felt like the helmets were more for protection from the ball or errant sticks flying around than from anything deliberate. While contact is part of the game, it's definitely not the point of the game as much as it is in football. Also, as the skill level of players increases, the contact level generally decreases, especially for full-on hits. Most of the contact I see when I watch NCAA games is just defenders riding attackers to keep them away from the goal, so there's no real "impact" to the contact. Even when I played in high school, we'd only see someone really get lit up once or twice a season.

Here's a video of the hardest hits from 2009 - most of which are illegal in some way, usually cross-checking. Other than the guy taking a stick in the neck, most of them are just one guy pushing another. I've seen much worse.

posted by LionIndex at 12:48 PM on April 25

Yes it does

No it doesn't.


Oh, still here? Unless I missed something in my totally cursory glance at the article or I'm not seeing something in your comment, there's no adjustment for the number of players/ games/ etc. More people have passed out at Justin Bieber concerts than at the local bar band's; doesn't mean it's safer to attend one over the other. I'm not defending football or organized violence (at least, not right now), I'm just being an annoying stick in the mud about stats, just like always.

The stuff we did when we started playing would probably get us kicked out of most games today

Oh, it should have gotten me thrown out then too, I was just sneaky. I offset my complete lack of talent with an Ulf Samuelsson skillset. My garage may or may not still contain an aluminum shaft with a 45° bend in it from where I speared some pony-tailed prep school hot shot.

posted by yerfatma at 02:00 PM on April 25

I offset my complete lack of talent with an Ulf Samuelsson skillset.

*face punch*

/Domi

posted by grum@work at 02:19 PM on April 25

Oh, still here? Unless I missed something in my totally cursory glance at the article or I'm not seeing something in your comment, there's no adjustment for the number of players/ games/ etc.

From the article:

Previous studies have shown that football has nearly twice the injury rate as the next most popular sport, basketball.

Rate implies that it's not just about volume.

posted by dfleming at 03:32 PM on April 25

Here's a video of the hardest hits from 2009

The thing that concerns me about that video is amount of head first hits and cross checks to the head, especially at the beginning. One of my 6th grade attackmen went down two weeks ago to a hit like that and ended up with a mild concussion. He seems like he recovered alright and is already cleared to play again.

Just my experience but I've seen more and worse injuries while playing football than I have lacrosse. I agree it stems from the goal of the game, goal scoring vs tackling.

posted by umrlax at 03:33 PM on April 25

From the article . . . Rate implies that it's not just about volume.

From my previous comment explicitly referencing that: it says nothing about whether football's injury rate is way higher than all other sports. It just says what football's injury rate is compared to basketball. I bet it's even worse when compared to chess, but I'd like to know how it compares to hockey.

Sorry grum, but I turtled as soon as I made my comment, so you hit nothing but air.

posted by yerfatma at 04:16 PM on April 25

The thing that concerns me about that video is amount of head first hits and cross checks to the head, especially at the beginning.

Exactly - that's why I was saying that most of the hits would be illegal. It seemed like the vast majority of the video was cross-checks, and then there's the one slow-mo cross-check to the neck by a UNC (Hopkins maybe) player that gets repeated, and for the life of me I can't figure out why. Of course someone's going down if you club them in the neck with a length of metal.

But anyway, supposedly the hardest hits, mostly illegal, still tamer than football.

posted by LionIndex at 05:26 PM on April 25

I don't even know how relevant the violence of the hits are: there's some thought the danger from football might be the receptiveness of the collisions causing micro-concussions.

posted by yerfatma at 06:06 PM on April 25

... I'm just being an annoying stick in the mud about stats, just like always.

It does not seem like an article worth applying that much scrutiny to. I looked for the underlying studies and came up empty. I thought we had an old link here including some of them.

One weird thing about youth injuries is that girl's high school soccer apparently has more injuries than boy's. I wonder if it's because the girls don't have another sport siphoning off the most physically aggressive athletes.

posted by rcade at 06:59 PM on April 25

One weird thing about youth injuries is that girl's high school soccer apparently has more injuries than boy's. I wonder if it's because the girls don't have another sport siphoning off the most physically aggressive athletes.

Field hockey and lacrosse take some motivated athletes from soccer, but I think one of the main factors is physiology and training.

Boys naturally develop muscle in joints like knees as they develop and girls do not, so girls need to train to develop joint strength and durability. Also, girls add size and mass to their frames earlier in adolescence than boys. The girls player who may have had ample athleticism at the U10 level may find the wheels fall off as she growth spurts in U12 and has to work to develop the capability to tote a larger frame around so she can regain her quickness and agility, etc.

Hence the epidemic of ACL injuries among girls in soccer. I think that preventative training has been slow to get instilled in the age ranks of girls soccer. A few years ago, coaches in my region only began to address ACL prevention training in girls starting at the U14 level. Now it has been gradually extended down into the younger age levels as well.

But that is mostly happening at the elite competitive levels and not universally happening at the rec level, so girls who come up through rec teams and then compete at the JV level in high school may not have had adequate prevention training and can incur injuries accordingly.

posted by beaverboard at 07:27 PM on April 25

I think scavengers should be insulted being compared to lawyers.

posted by hardrane at 11:03 AM on April 26

Took you two full days to come up with that one? Well, I guess you told me.

posted by tahoemoj at 11:18 AM on April 26

Sorry for the delay. Iwill try to be more timely with my cheap shots.

posted by hardrane at 02:43 PM on April 28

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