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To 'Open Up the Game'
Shep on the Fate of American Football

Shep commented on Tomb Of The Well-Known Criminal

Oct-3-2017, 4:05 PM UTC

Shep, I'm totally unqualified for this subject, not having the right mindset for the game and team structure and having had most of my teenage fights against football players. I quit football three times, the last time after threatening the coach. It is a strong source of bias on my part, with an old enemy feeling coming anytime I consider a football player.


James, that is an excellent question (and an important one, for more reasons than one). I think it deserves a better response than I can give, so I'm going to forward it to a friend of mine who writes a blog that is 50/50 football and social commentary. He is literally an "old pro", since he has coached at the high school, college, and pro levels, and I think it is a topic he could really do justice to.

However, since I can't resist...You are correct about the importance of the rule changes to favor the passing game, particularly the rule allowing blockers to extend their arms and place their hands on their opponents. I gag every time I see modern blocking techniques. This allowed a de-emphasis of the running game, which was based on power and precision, and vastly upgraded the importance of the passing game, which is all about speed and ball skills. Power and durability were traits more evenly distributed, while short-burst speed and vertical jumping are skills concentrated in a certain demographic. College recruiting and pro drafting came to reflect this emphasis when selecting personnel, and once the pros set the tone, the lower echelons of football followed suit.

(Come to think of it, all the sports that those stale, pale males invented were far more power/durability-centered in their early incarnations than in the modern version. For instance, in your specialty, the London Prize Rules certainly selected for a different type of fighter than today's boxing rules. Tippy-tap run-and-hide showboaters wouldn't do too well against Sullivan or Kilrain.)

The NFL and D1 drive to "open up the game" is always explained as a way to "increase fan interest", but there were plenty of football fans at all levels prior to 1990. What they actually mean is "attract more FEMALE interest", so that more accessories can be sold and more of the advertisers' products can be sold. Women were less interested in dissecting the fullback vs. middle linebacker matchup (which used to be the key confrontation in the game) than they are in watching pretty passes arching through the sky, followed by an amusing minstrel show as the wide receiver celebrates his own success post-touchdown. Hence, you get the "chickification" of football, which reaches its apogee at the Super Bowl, when only 1/3 of the public interest is focused on the game, with the other 2/3 of the emphasis placed on the advertisements and the halftime burlesque.

IMHO, this is of major cultural significance, because football used to be THE rite-of-passage for American boys. Not only did old-school coaches inculcate those white-bread Middle-American virtues in their players, but the game provided a proving ground for the warrior virtues, much the same way as lacrosse did for the Iroquois. Just for fun, go to Badassoftheweek, and read the bios of men like Robin Olds and Slade Cutter (yes, that's his real name).

Would the flag-dissing, pass-catching pretty boy kneelers of today be likely to emulate these warriors in a time of national peril? To ask the question is to answer it.

Obviously this is a topic near and dear to my heart, because the SJW's and the corporations, working together, have made a travesty out of something that I used to love and that I thought would remain unsullied by the bullshit of modern day-to-day life. I used to be a huge fan of pro and college football (and basketball), but it's impossible to enjoy these things now when every game seems to be a matchup of the Crips vs. the Bloods.

Shep, in the suburban East Coast areas I grew up football was about peer acceptance, pussy and scholarship, with little fatherly involvement. It would seem more like soccer to rural men, in terms of parental involvement, although I know it was different at the places my uncle coached at a higher level. After my trip out to Utah, I came away with a high level of appreciation for how much high school football meant to these men, that Dad was always there watching and that life skills were a focus of coaching. I also discovered that this particular Mountainside high school was the focus of intense U.S. Army recruitment for combat infantrymen as the Vietnam War drew down and that all but one man in the district had been drafted for WWII. The fact that the elite in his country are severing that link demonstrates either great ignorance or malice.

Of Lions and Men

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SwampfoxOctober 4, 2017 12:17 PM UTC

I admit to being a hard core football addict and I have to say that post was spot on. I would add the increase emphasis on passing and lead to the concussion issue in the NFL. I would say that 70-80% of concussions occur on pass plays. The force generated in the open field against a defenseless receiver is substantial more than occurs when a fullback dives into the line of scrimmage.

But I don't expect the NFL to do anything about it for the reason mentioned in the above post. More scoring not only attracts female viewers but it is necessary for fantasy football leagues, which is a geek magnet for the League.
ShepOctober 3, 2017 6:22 PM UTC

The situation you describe in Utah is exactly the way things were in my mid-size Rocky Mountain city in the '70's. I didn't realize until much later just what good men these coaches were. "Firm but fair" was their unspoken credo. And "of course" the Dads and Moms and sisters and brothers came to see every damn game, in every sport, home and away. That was what (intact) families did.

Can you help me find my passport, please?

I just wanna go back to America.
responds:October 3, 2017 10:25 PM UTC

Shep, I think your passport is in Syria.

If you join ISIS the CIA will certainly let you have access to their simulation of 1970s America where you can role play a real American...for information purposes only...