Friday Firesmith – Bully for you, Teddy

Friday firesmithThe great thing about the internet, other than Bits and Pieces, is that in just a few moments you can discover the world is a much different place than it once was, or you can find out that it’s pretty much the same, or even both, if you look around long enough.

But it seems that most of the college football rules we are living with today resulted in the high number of fatalities, that would be young men who were killed, playing college football, back in 1905. The movement to reform football.

Young teddy2Yeah, you are reading that right; players killed playing college football in 1905.

So let’s flash forward to 2013, over one hundred years later, and the big news in football is the college players getting paid and the pros getting brain injuries.

And that bullying thing.

I must admit that I did not see that one coming. I never thought I would see a three hundred and fifty pound man claim that he was being bullied in the locker room of a professional football team or even the locker room of the Miami Dolphins.

So once upon a time, President Theodore threatened to kill off college football completely if they didn’t stop killing off players.

We have to decide, as a society, if football is special and above certain rules of civilized behavior and if the men who engage in football, are to be offered any protection from the sport they profit from, that is, if they’re pro football players or members of the Atlanta Falcons.
We already have legalized, to a degree, assault on the football field much as we have in the boxing ring. The sport itself is trying to rein in hard head to head hits as well as protecting the quarterback and receivers more. Will it be enough to mitigate the long term damage that players are limping off the field with each season? Right now the answer is yes.

But there is that unpleasant and surreal bullying incident and now, suddenly, it’s being called to question if certain rules in the workplace for someone making minimum wage are in place for a man making five million dollars a year to play a kid’s game. Right now the answer is maybe.

But the really big question here is whether or not football players at the college or professional level, will be treated the same when it comes to sexual assault or domestic violence. The answer seems to be, not yet.

It will be interesting to see what forces shape the game, which I love by the way, and whether or not the game will survive a certain degree of civilization. I strongly doubt an American president will offer to kill off the game to save lives or the health of the players, without big business approval.

As far as the assault on women by sports stars, well, that’s remains to be seen, if anyone cares as much about that, as they do making money off the sport.

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.


20 comments to Friday Firesmith – Bully for you, Teddy

  • ray

    In the days of the Roman Empire, weren’t gladiator games (“Do you like movies about gladiators, Billy?”) a form of entertainment? Didn’t that incur deaths and weren’t those deaths the highlight? Not that I’m advocating deaths in football, but watching violence does seem to be a genetic predisposition in humans. After all, who goes to watch an Arnold Schwarzeneggar movie for his acting?

    I admit, I look forward to football season and dislike some of the rule changes that have been brought into the game in recent years to protect players, especially the quarterback. Violence is part of the game and I would go as far to say, that is the reason why many of the players play the game. Although I do remember seeing that at least one player recently quit the game to save himself from future misery.

    To a certain extent, playing football is like smoking cigarettes. You know it can’t be good for you in the long term, but it’s something you enjoy in the now. Today’s medical reports are out there for all to see, so I think it’s fair to say that athletes now know the possible consequences of such a career. As I said, I’m not happy with some of the rule changes, but perhaps technology can create equipment that better protects players from injuries without sacrificing the hard hitting aspect of the game. Otherwise, all we have is soccer with a funny shaped ball.

    On a side note, is it me or has the showing of game highlight reels shifted over the years? By that I mean, I seem to remember that game highlights included monstrous hits mixed with catches and runs. Now it seems that violent hits have been removed from the highlight reels.

    • Yeah, that’s the thing, Ray, is that football is a lot like smoking. No one forces men to play football and they are very richly rewarded for playing.

      The downside to this, and this has nothing to do with the game itself, is that society has become to worship those who play. Like second hand smoke, this is now everyone’s problem to a degree.

      I think quarterbacks are over rated, over protected and over paid.

      They get paid a lot more and they take smaller risks, Does this seem fair to you, Ray?

      Take Care,

      • ray

        I’m on the fence of high pay. They do give their bodies a great amount of abuse to play. Most careers are no more than a decade (except for the kicker) and one would hope they would have enough financial awareness for the physical therapy they will need later on. But hey, they all have college degrees before becoming pro, right?

        It’s a tough call. I sometimes feel hockey players are underpaid.

        As for the QB, wasn’t the Raiders kicker paid some ungodly amount when he was drafted? That’s the bigger problem for me…rookies who get overpaid before proving themselves.

  • mary

    Ho-hum. I can’t work up a lot of interest in a bunch of spoiled millionaires’ problems.

  • Old Geezer

    @ray: To carry your historical analogy one step closer, one of the greatest spectator sports of the nineteenth century was public executions. Boy, them crowds sure did love a good beheading (something you have to look hard for on YouTube these days), somehow we’ve grown out of it. If you look back to the Roman Empire for your entertainment, you need only look at what a fabulous success story they make in modern times.

    ” Violence is part of the game and I would go as far to say, that is the reason why many of the players play the game.” The same can be said for dog-fighting and bear-baiting although not so much on the part of the participants. Certainly, there are many activities that satisfy any number of people’s blood lust. MMA fighting comes to mind. I would suggest that there is a cable TV market for gang fighting and street muggings. But the subject is a sport that has evolved from a display of raw skill to one of violence in the name of skill. Among the numerous retired football players I have known or briefly met, none have said they expected the life-long pain and suffering (such as not being able to put your own socks on because bending down is too painful).

    @mary: I know, empathy is really tough. How about I send a few people over to your house to beat the holy crap out of you and then toss some money on the floor. Will that make it an acceptable subject for discussion? You might wonder why so many ex-jocks are selling insurance or used cars. Not everyone leaves the game a millionaire. A player who is still in the game after ten years is considered a “veteran.” What would you plan for the rest of your life if you were suddenly out of work, smashed up and lacking the only trade you were trained for?

    And Mike, the problem seems to have evolved from the days of “pure” football, where players didn’t wear helmets and padding to today where they are encased in “protective gear” and coached to crash into each other for the maximum impact possible. They would be much safer if we went back to the original type of uniform, but I guess that would be called rugby and you can’t market that on TV.

    • I agree with you, Geezer. Protective gear seems to be made to be used as a weapon rather than to protect.

      Your remarks to Ray are on target and though lacking a certain sense of subtlety, I agree also with what you have said to Mary as well.

    • ray

      The fact that retired players are suffering is one reason why ex-players are now fighting the league to help now and future retirees. It’s a sad realization, but once a player serves his purpose and is of no further use, the owners have no problem forgetting about them.

      Now I’m not sure how a city or school would get behind an MMA fighter, much less appreciate the “chess game” that happens between hits. Also kind of hard to find schools that give scholarships for dog fighting, plus last I checked, it was illegal. In a sense, you’re comparing apples to oranges. Sure they’re both fruit, but you can’t really eat the skin of one of them. Well, I guess you could, just not sure how enjoyable it would be. Perhaps when any of those other “sports” (I use quotes because muggings aren’t a sport. Maybe for the mugger, just not sure how one scores that game) can become profitable for corporate interests, you might have a stronger argument. Otherwise, someone who sees gang fights, muggings and executions either as sport or entertainment perhaps should be avoided by the general population. I mean, seriously, are you Charles Manson behind that “Old Geezer” name?

      I kid you on that last part, because one of the highlights of any NASCAR race is watching a car go up in flames. Of course, most people want to see the driver walk away, but there’s always those who hope for the worst. I’m just not sure what side you fall on.

      • Old Geezer

        See, here’s the thing, Ray. Your example of people going to car races to see the crashes is the equivalent (in my mind) of those who would go to an execution for entertainment. And while you see the subtle nuances of MMA fighting, I see people beating the crap out of each other for other people’s enjoyment, you know, just like the NFL has become, only without the pads and helmets. Boxing is a sport only because the Marquis of Queensberry set forth rules for it. My suggestion of mugging as sport is simply an extension of the philosophy. What is seen as barbaric can become “sport” simply by codifying the rules and selling tickets.

        Your observation that dog-fighting is illegal is, sadly, in keeping with the mores of 48 of our fifty states, but it does go on in a lot of places where the NFL practices its art. We need only look to the experience of one of its top quarterbacks to see that there are branches of our society that still condone it.

        Back to the subject of the original article, it is laudable of current players that they are interested in protecting themselves and recently retired players from severe injury. The example of not being able to put on his own socks was told to me in the 1970s. This is not a new problem.

        • ray

          Anticipating a car crash and watching someone being deliberately killed are two totally different things. Now if the person being executed burst into flames, I might be able to see your point. Executions have a known outcome and that reason alone tends to disqualify it from being entertainment in the typical sense. A person would want to watch for any number of reasons, such as morbid curiosity (hence why people slow down and look at traffic accidents) or perhaps for closure. The individual that gets hard at watching another man die, in my opinion, is not normal.

          Boxing existed in the original Greek Olympics so to suggest it only became a sport at that point is ignoring that sport normally involves competition.

  • Richard

    I still believe that football would be safer if players did not wear helmets.

    • I think you may be right, Richard, but what about those men crazy enough to use their heads as battering rams?

    • Ted

      Richard, that remind me of what George Carlin said about airbags and seat belts, that everyone would drive a whole lot safer if there was a huge, sharp metal spike on the steering wheel that was pointed toward the driver’s chest.

      • You would think so, Ted, but people didn’t start wearing seat belts until there were seat belt laws. Back in the 60′s Robert McNamara was head of Ford motors. He discovered that most deaths were caused by drivers hitting the steering column and passengers hitting the dashboard and windshield.

        So they made a lot of changes and promoted seat belt use. They changes helped but very few people wore seat belts still.

        Go figure.

      • Old Geezer

        I really liked George Carlin but he was off the mark here. Having been a firefighter/EMT I can vouch for the fact that people simply don’t believe it can happen to them. Roughly 15,000 people die each year due to themselves or another driver being under the influence. Ride-alongs and narrow escapes do not illustrate to many drivers that alcohol and gasoline don’t mix.

  • xoxoxoBruce

    If violence is necessary for the survival, or at least for the profitability of pro football, then explain why baseball is still around, and pretty healthy last I heard.

    The problem of celebrities being above the law is as old as the hills. The growing problem is the bar to celebrity-ism has been dropped so low it’s muddy. Nobody, not one person, on “reality” TV should be considered a celebrity.

    • ray

      As an enthusiast of the game, violence is just one aspect of the game, albeit an important one. It is necessary only because it is a contact sport or as Vince Lombardi called it, a collision sport. Not sure if professional flag football would garner enough support to be profitable. Would hockey be the same without checking?

      Can’t speak to baseball as I quit watching with any interest years ago. The only thing that comes to mind, which is pretty much true of all sports with city ties, is it becomes a rivalry, with the game itself being less important than the outcome. I am guessing most people refer to their home team in the context of “we”, as in “We kicked (name that city or team)’s ass!”

    • Honey Boo Boo.

      Need I say more?

  • grumpy

    Football players, boxers, actors, rock stars. porn stars etc. are disposable entities that no one really cares about after we have got out entertainment value out of them.
    After their singular abilities have subsided they basically useless members of society.
    For the most part, if they didn’t “make it” in their realms they would be less worthy than Joe the Plumber. They certainly don’t deserve the adulation they get.

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