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OT: Football's "death spiral"

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Old
02-04-2013, 10:37 AM
  #76
cutchemist42
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I'm not a Rugby or Australian football guy, but are they facing the same problems? Are those two sports even close to American football in terms of head trauma?

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02-04-2013, 10:43 AM
  #77
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Originally Posted by G Dawg View Post
Army, police, navy, etc. You can't sue any of them if you die while conducting your duties. Nor can a boxer be sued for killing his opponent (as long as that boxer did not go outside the rules of the sport).
Actually you can if you can prove that your employer wasn't exercising it's due diligence in the protection of its employee's life.

The NFL can only avoid serious lawsuits, as long as it's seen to be making adjustments to the game.

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02-04-2013, 10:49 AM
  #78
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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
We agree on this on a certain ethical level. People have always known the "got hit in the head one too many times" stereotype about football players.

But, that's only one part of the picture here. Other factors include:

- Common-sense arguments are often not effective as legal protection. If the NFL has promoted a product that necessarily causes brain damage, encouraged employees to engage in brain-damaging behavior and rewarded those who are proficient at it (ie, Ray Lewis), and influenced children to pursue this kind of behavior so that they can be recruited as future employees... well, let's just say that the courts don't look kindly on that kind of business model.

- It's not far-fetched to think that there's a class-action suit around the corner. If that happens, the financial consequences are going to be painful -- both in terms of the immediate payout, and in terms of what it means for future liabilities.

- The final end result of litigation is reasonably likely to be a precedent that the NFL cannot knowingly put its players in a position of sustaining avoidable brain injury simply to pad their own profits. That's a fairly common standard for any industry. That means the NFL is in a position to either eliminate head contact entirely (think of what a football game would look like without ANY head contact), or argue in court that brain injury is a completely unavoidable consequence of playing football. Either way...

- Once a ball starts rolling like this, it's hard to stop. Look at how baseball has been dragged through the mud over steroids. The same thing is likely to be the case in regard to head injuries in football. The news cycle alone could be devastating for marketing and PR purposes, never mind secondary consequences in recruiting and whatnot.




That's exactly the point. It's not that football is actually going to "die" and go away. It's that the success of football is largely tied up in hyper-masculinity and violence. Watching a bunch of guys in Marvin the Martian helmets playing a game where linemen can only make contact with their hands and form-tackles are the only form of defense... that's just really not a marketing dream. It would be kind of effete, which is the opposite of what Americans want to watch (ref: soccer as a spectator sport).

That's where the "death spiral" comes into play. Depending on how these medical studies and court cases play out, we may be in a situation where the NFL has no choice but to water down the product to an unappealing level. If that happens, the illusion of the NFL as the domain of invincible cartoonish super-men disappears. Ratings drop. Revenues drop. Advertising starts to wane. People start getting interested in some random sport we haven't even thought of yet. The spiral is tough to break once it begins.

Looking at nflevolution.com, I have no doubt that the NFL is already thinking of these potential outcomes. They have the word "evolution" right in the title, with "Forever Forward, Forever Football" as the catch phrase. Tell me that isn't an organization getting ready to make substantial changes to its product, and concerned about how customers will perceive the shift to a new style.

Spot on, I'd also like to add the steroid scandal had little to do with side effects of the drug that are actually proven and had far more focus on hysteria.

The fact that head trauma is proven really is a death spiral.

You gotta think of it simply from a networks perspective, if you feel your forced into paying for broadcast right merely to keep your network relevant wouldn't you have more than an active interest in making the sport to appear as a bloodsport.

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02-04-2013, 11:33 AM
  #79
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Originally Posted by HugoSimon View Post
Spot on, I'd also like to add the steroid scandal had little to do with side effects of the drug that are actually proven and had far more focus on hysteria.
Yeah, health concerns were WAY down the list of reasons baseball was hurt by the steroid scandal.

It was more about people feeling disillusioned about an era that had seemed magical at the time. A whole generation of baseball fans now identifies their childhood heroes as cheaters. The fact that MLB was so slow to act that Congress got involved. The total desecration of the record book. And it just keeps on perpetuating itself with Hall of Fame votes and what have you. That scandal hit baseball in all the places that make baseball special.

But even then, it's not like steroids were integral to the sport. Getting rid of them makes the players a little less godlike, but it doesn't change what they do on the field. MLB might eventually put this era in its past and carry on. Football is likely going to literally look like a different game once the medical and legal reality sets in. The NFL's only real option, unless they want to get demolished in court, will be to make those changes proactively and try to contain the narrative in positive PR territory as much as they can.

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02-04-2013, 12:24 PM
  #80
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Originally Posted by Melrose Munch View Post
Football won't disappear. But let's get something straight, you can claim whant ever time period, but for most the MLB screwed itself in 1994. And with the steroids that is still ongoing, the Selig era has been a massive joke and will not be remembered fondly other than teams make money on a bubble as my friend KINGS17 so eloquently put it. But despite all that what Mayor Bee says rings true: Baseball only needs minor adjustments. Football does not have that The concussions are a big deal, and if the don't deal with the we could see Baseball become number one again. Why put your kids in Football soccer and baseball are much safer and much more healthier for the brain.
I agree that football will not die the death predicted here. I doubt that steroids has as much of a negative effect on MLB as the media claims though. Baseball is dying it's because it's too slow to resonate with our modern distracted brains. MLB is the NPR of pro sports. It's dry and boring. (actually that's kind of an insult to NPR but I digress) Kids do not have the attention span to sit and watch a 3 hour baseball game with very little action. The core fan base is still holding on but it's an aging demographic that is slowly dwindling. Football is just a more entertaining sport.

I don't think there much correlation between participation in a sport and the health of the pro game either. If that were the case soccer would be number one in the USA but it's not. As others have mentioned football isn't played by a lot of kids in the North but it's extremely popular as a spectator sport.

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02-04-2013, 12:36 PM
  #81
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CBS Sports has released very preliminary numbers that say Super Bowl XLVII could be the most-watched game in history.

Sundayís telecast of the Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers game had an overnight rating/share of 48.1/71 in metered markets.

Thatís up 1 percent from last yearís N.Y. Giants vs. New England game, which was the most-watched game ever.

http://insidetv.ew.com/2013/02/04/su...xlvii-ratings/

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02-04-2013, 12:42 PM
  #82
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mayor Bee View Post
The brain damage thing is, I believe, an easier remedy than anyone would think.

When helmets were little more than heavier versions of hockey helmets, players were taught from the earliest ages to keep your head out of hits because it would knock you out. As technology improved, that way of thinking started to fade because the risks to oneself diminished. Now, when I was playing in high school, we used to do tackling drills in pads but no helmets to reinforce this, and our defense was absolutely savage in the tackling game.

What's notable is that I've spoken to many NFL players from the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s who are still of sound mind (if not body). Those who came in starting around 1980 and later, on the other hand...well, let's just say I'm always surprised that they're not drooling on themselves five years after retirement.
I believe this to be true. My grandfather played at a very high level in the 40s. He got knocked on the head a few times, but in his mid-late 70s his brain showed no signs of damage or slowing down. Watching how guys played in that equipment is very different from how it works today; for instance, there's a highlight video from an NCAA game where a receiver catches the ball, and the defender immediately wraps him around the waist and legs; when I saw that the first thing that struck me is that a modern player would have been far more likely to just crash hard into the guy up high. On a side note, a more interesting aspect of the 40s play is that there was another trailing player, who wasn't there to block...he was there to get the ball as the the receiver went down.

I guess we'll have to wait and see how the public reacts to the inevitable increase in brain damage in fairly young former players. It's going to be difficult to break the perception that more padding is always better.

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02-04-2013, 12:49 PM
  #83
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Football isn't in danger because of gambling and fantasy football.

Fantasy football is widespread and attracts fan interest. The average person has a short attention span and the 16 game schedule fits perfectly with that. I think going to 18 games will hurt the NFL in that regard. Americans, including myself, have a short attention span

I could see the spiral more realistic if a huge gambling fix was brought to surface. That combined with the head injuries would bring football down.

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02-04-2013, 01:13 PM
  #84
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HugoSimon View Post
Actually you can if you can prove that your employer wasn't exercising it's due diligence in the protection of its employee's life.

The NFL can only avoid serious lawsuits, as long as it's seen to be making adjustments to the game.
Agreed. The issue they're facing now with the ex-player lawsuit is over allegations that the league had knowledge about the long-term negative ramifications from concussions and kept it hidden from the players, much in the same way that the tobacco industry was mass-sued after it become public knowledge about the impact of smoking and that they had kept such knowledge hidden for decades. Even if they win this one, they want to avoid future such lawsuits as much as possible, which is why they're tinkering with the rules and are essentially instructing refs to throw flags when in doubt. All about protecting their butts and their bottom lines.

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02-04-2013, 06:43 PM
  #85
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Originally Posted by silvercanuck View Post
I agree that football will not die the death predicted here. I doubt that steroids has as much of a negative effect on MLB as the media claims though. Baseball is dying it's because it's too slow to resonate with our modern distracted brains. MLB is the NPR of pro sports. It's dry and boring. (actually that's kind of an insult to NPR but I digress) Kids do not have the attention span to sit and watch a 3 hour baseball game with very little action. The core fan base is still holding on but it's an aging demographic that is slowly dwindling. Football is just a more entertaining sport.

I don't think there much correlation between participation in a sport and the health of the pro game either. If that were the case soccer would be number one in the USA but it's not. As others have mentioned football isn't played by a lot of kids in the North but it's extremely popular as a spectator sport.
My point is the steroid issue in baseball is truly absurd, anyone with a very basic knowledge of competitive sports and statistics can figure out that pro hormones are a huge factor in virtually every sport.

It's an absurd issue yet it got some major traction and air time, and it's based on a totally absurd premise.

The head trauma issue, is backed by hard science, and without a doubt proves that most nfl stars are living damaged lives.

It's the type of situation where the nfl can only be seen as being exploitive.

There's no way around it, head trauma, is the worst kind of injury because you can essentially blame anything on it, from spousal abuse to tax fraud.

You've basically put the NFL on it's back, and the stars can get away with murder at this point.

No longer is the NFL as a corporation untouchable, when you rise to the top this kind of exposure will ruin you.

There business model is based on total domination, it's why it's valued more than NHL NBA, and MLB combined.

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02-04-2013, 09:06 PM
  #86
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Originally Posted by Melrose Munch View Post
one game playoff. It gives the illusion of parity.
it makes no sense doing more than 1ame playoffs when you have only a 16 game season.

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02-04-2013, 09:16 PM
  #87
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Originally Posted by silvercanuck View Post
I agree that football will not die the death predicted here. I doubt that steroids has as much of a negative effect on MLB as the media claims though. Baseball is dying it's because it's too slow to resonate with our modern distracted brains. MLB is the NPR of pro sports. It's dry and boring. (actually that's kind of an insult to NPR but I digress) Kids do not have the attention span to sit and watch a 3 hour baseball game with very little action. The core fan base is still holding on but it's an aging demographic that is slowly dwindling. Football is just a more entertaining sport.

I don't think there much correlation between participation in a sport and the health of the pro game either. If that were the case soccer would be number one in the USA but it's not. As others have mentioned football isn't played by a lot of kids in the North but it's extremely popular as a spectator sport.
You'd just love test cricket

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02-04-2013, 09:45 PM
  #88
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And we had the highest rated super bowl of all time last night.

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02-04-2013, 09:46 PM
  #89
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Ditto fantasy football, it's beyond huge

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02-04-2013, 11:06 PM
  #90
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And we had the highest rated super bowl of all time last night.
By 1 percent from last year, or in other words it's keeping up with population growth.

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02-04-2013, 11:24 PM
  #91
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Technology. It has already cut down on injuries and lead to more accurate diagnosing. They've also tried to cut down on vulnerable players and targeting, which lead to unreasonably hard hits.

I'm waiting for someone to make a reasonable argument as to why football should be watered down for the sake of safety. It's the modern equivalent of gladiatorial sport. They get paid millions to sacrifice their bodies. Players know what they are getting into. Hell, more education on how severe concussions can be and closer monitoring of players might cut down on the excessive cases. They shouldn't let guys trot back out there when it's clear they've just had one.

Changing the way the game is played is a smokescreen to cover up for the total indifference the NFL shows towards retired and chronically injured players.
because at some level or another, something has to give. The thousands of college, high school and pop warner programs that have to exist to create the 1700 players in the NFL are predominantly filled with kids who will never, ever make a single penny playing the game yet they're still being subjected to the risks. So either the talent stream will dry up to some degree, or the game will have to change.

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02-04-2013, 11:31 PM
  #92
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Originally Posted by cutchemist42 View Post
I'm not a Rugby or Australian football guy, but are they facing the same problems? Are those two sports even close to American football in terms of head trauma?
I don't think so. A lot of the head trauma is actually caused by the helmet, which keeps the skull in place but has a negative effect when it comes to your brain not being tossed around within the skull. Those games also don't have line play the way our football does. Guys aren't smashing their heads together on every down.

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02-04-2013, 11:32 PM
  #93
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Rugby doesn't garner the same excitement level to Americans as football

They're not even on the same universe
That's a difference in the way the games are played, primarily, though. Rugby never evolved past being a game of laterals and kicks while football developed the forward pass and made the older style look quaint. The quality of hits in the average rugby match, however, are just as intense and dramatic while not carrying nearly as much risk. Lighter padding, perhaps as light as that worn by NHL players in the 80's and 90's, would be a viable solution.


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02-04-2013, 11:53 PM
  #94
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also, I'm not entirely sure that the popularity of football actually lies in Ed Reed trying to decapitate whoever happens to be holding the ball. That kind of hitting is a relatively recent addition to the game (you had guys like Jack Tatum, but most safeties didn't hit like that), yet football has been at least the second most popular team sport in the US since the early 1900's. Contrary to popular belief, the NFL was already surpassing MLB long before 1994, too.

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02-04-2013, 11:54 PM
  #95
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because at some level or another, something has to give. The thousands of college, high school and pop warner programs that have to exist to create the 1700 players in the NFL are predominantly filled with kids who will never, ever make a single penny playing the game yet they're still being subjected to the risks. So either the talent stream will dry up to some degree, or the game will have to change.
Exactly.

If you think it's simply a matter of re-branding the league, and exploiting desperate minorities to replace past super star's your dreaming.

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02-05-2013, 12:22 AM
  #96
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Guys, it's a Salon article about football. It's about as worthy of attention as a Sports Illustrated piece on hybrid cars.

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02-05-2013, 12:28 AM
  #97
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also, I'm not entirely sure that the popularity of football actually lies in Ed Reed trying to decapitate whoever happens to be holding the ball. That kind of hitting is a relatively recent addition to the game (you had guys like Jack Tatum, but most safeties didn't hit like that), yet football has been at least the second most popular team sport in the US since the early 1900's. Contrary to popular belief, the NFL was already surpassing MLB long before 1994, too.
Seriously? Were you around to watch the NFL in the 70s and 80s? Because it was far, far more violent back then. Lot of hits back then have been taken out of the game, like what Tatum did with his hook tackles, chop blocking, etc.

Nobody wants to hear this, but the biggest problem in football is the equipment. Same deal with hockey, where the added "protection" provides a feeling of invulnerability. Helmets do virtually nothing to protect against brain injuries. They're actually the source of a lot of trauma. Same with hockey and the ridiculous shoulder and elbow "pads" that are better at causing concussions than they are at protecting their wearers.

I can see a lot of heat coming for football over the next decade or so. I can also see someone finally coming up with proper head protection that deals with the concussion issue once and for all in both football and hockey. Too much money involved here. There will be breakthroughs. I wouldn't be surprised if we see totally new head-gear in football within a few years.

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02-05-2013, 01:40 AM
  #98
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Yes, certain things like chop blocks and horse collar tackles were allowed to go on but those aren't the kind of things that cause severe brain trauma. The kind of leaping, pad to helmet tackles that are so en vogue today weren't as common.

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02-05-2013, 07:29 AM
  #99
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Quote:
Originally Posted by superdeluxe View Post
And we had the highest rated super bowl of all time last night.
Quote:
Originally Posted by superdeluxe
Ditto fantasy football, it's beyond huge
Nobody has said anything about the NFL losing popularity overnight.

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