Great read about the darkness of pain, injuries and football.
I always wanted to play pro ball. Recently for the reasons in the article, I am glad that I did not.
Wow. Well-written piece. It’s a part of the game I’m thinking most of us prefer not to have to think about.
And we all cheer for guys who are making a small fraction of what those NFL players are paid. At least the NFL players are (in theory) set for life financially in return for their sacrifice.
Yes. and it’s one reason I understand Andrew Harris for his decisions to take something to survive in this brutal game and try to limit recovery time.
I saw a video of recently retired multi-Super Bowl champion Rob Gronkowski speaking to a student group (I believe).
He explained why he retired at a relatively young age and why he felt no compulsion to return to football in a hurry.
He had just won his third Super Bowl championship and he could not enjoy it at all.
Couldn’t sleep for weeks.
No joy in winning the championship because he couldn’t just live pain free.
Why continue playing if you can’t live in comfort?
I’m convinced that North American football, in its present form, is unsustainable in the long term.
Enjoy it while you can.
Can’t say one way or another if you are correct there Sir. However, Gridiron football has been around for over a century. I cannot see it suddenly vanishing. Plenty of young, 10-foot-tall-bulletproof gladiators willing and able to enter the fray.
But the main point, or rather question I would like to throw out there for consideration is this:
Can the same thing be said about rugby and Aussie rules football? Both are rough, brutal sports and where the players don’t even have the level of protective equipment that their counterparts in NA Gridiron football have. I don’t follow either sport so I have no idea what is the state of injuries in these sports nor if there are concerted moves on the part of the leagues to curtail player injuries.
All of which is to say that if NA Gridiron football is unsustainable in its present form, the same must hold true for rugby and Aussie rules football.
Big AFL fan and less so of rugby but primarily NRL. From watching I would say North American ball is far harder on the body but rugby and Aussie rules is harder on the head. American football player hit every play, almost every player, and the hits to ball carries are at great speed, however they do have helmets that help to some degree with head contact. Aussie rules and rugby the players hit each other at relatively slow speed (mostly, there is the odd hit or two a game that is the exception), but when they hit the head it is bare head to bare head contact or bare head striking the ground.
Both sports have exceptions, especially Aussie rules on contested marks in the forward 50, but I don’t think it’s as hard on the body as American gridiron. I speak as a spectator as I have never played Aussie rules and only a little rugby. Rugby is hard on the body but as I recall not as hard (at least on my younger body) as football. Aussie rules has the added issue of running a mini marathon every game. Most AFL players run 7-8 km a game on average and the top players can run as much as 12-13 km in a game.
I don’t doubt there is pain that lasts well after the final whistle and similar issues suffered by players just as with any contact sport.
I didn’t say it would suddenly vanish.
I said unsustainable in the long term in its present form.
When former players say that they would not register their kids to play football (as I have heard many times), the number of participants will dwindle. As someone said recently, registering your child to play football will come to be viewed as a form of child abuse.
I expect tackle football will outlive me, but I would look forward to pro touch or flag or tag.
My apologies. I stand corrected.
You provide an interesting perspective on this.I often get snide comments from English friends that our North American football is for sissies, as compared with their rugby, because our players are all padded up and wear helmets. I never thought of the speed of hitting factor.
“Gridiron football has been around for over a century. I cannot see it suddenly vanishing.”
The hitting now is much harder and more vicious than twenty or so years ago. There was a time when two CFL teams played back to back Saturday and Monday on long weekends.
Not many may remember, as I do, when semi-final playoffs were two game, total point series played within a week.
Having played both at amateur levels and as an accomplished tackler as well, I can affirm to you that the requirement in rugby to wrap when tackling, which was the norm in gridiron football through about the 1960s and at amateur levels through at least the 1970s, helps to mitigate the injuries.
Also in rugby hits above the shoulders have always been against the rules and result in a penalty.
Finally recent changes to rules for gridiron football have eliminated more of the hits above the shoulders.
In my opinion the danger in rugby remains because it’s not hard for an accidental blow to your unprotected head, but there’s little that can be done to prevent that inherent hazard.
Depending on the nature of the hit, a modern helmet also can do little for protection because that head and brain still move and shake violently.
I think we live with the inherent dangers in each sport, but any league or organizing body has to reckon with how and who pays for the inevitable head trauma however much the rules have been altered.
In gridiron football after recent rule changes, finally they have figured out only in this decade that mere advancements in the helmets is not the solution and only a mitigating factor.
Just to add to my comments and what was said by a few above, Aussie rules tackles are at greater speeds than rugby but less than gridiron.
The head contact is brutal in both. While a helmet does not eliminate head injuries it does reduce the effects. In AFL and rugby however it is bare head which can lead to a second impact with the ground. Last weekend a Collingwood player (don’t recall who) took an elbow to the head from his own player trying to take a mark. That hit rung his bell but then he fell to the ground (he was in the air for the mark) and his head bounced off the turf.
Again, I wouldn’t say one is worse than the other just that they all have inherent dangers but some are worse than others based on the nature of each game.