Staff Opinion: Will there be an NFL in 25 years?

By Kyle Garcia | February 8, 2018 12:56pm

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Kyle Garcia is a sports editor for The Beacon
by Brennan Robinson / The Beacon

We just had Super Bowl Sunday, one of the year’s most-watched television events. It is a tradition so revered and so important in American culture that almost everyone, football fan or not, tunes in to watch it. It is a staple of American culture, celebrated on the same level as just about any holiday.

But what if, in 25 years, there were no Super Bowl? Not only that, what if there were no NFL at all?

It’s strange to think about such a thing. The NFL has been such a mainstay of sports that the mere prospect of it no longer existing is ridiculous. Even as the ratings rapidly fall, it still is consistently viewed by millions week in and week out.

But the NFL won’t eventually die off because the ratings won’t be there. It’ll die off because of the sport itself.

Football is a sport that tasks large humans with constantly running into each other over and over again. It asks them to put their bodies in danger more than any other sport besides arguably boxing and rugby. It not only features gruesome hits that constantly put in danger the lives of people playing, but glorifies these hits.

It’s not like the hits players are getting injured on are necessarily dirty hits either. For example, the hit on Brandin Cooks in the Super Bowl that left him motionless on the field for several minutes was actually a legal hit. Ryan Shazier has slowly been trying to regain movement in his lower body after suffering a horrific injury on a regular hit against the Bengals. These are plays that are completely legal, but still result in players suffering awful injuries that have seriously adverse effects.

What happens on the field isn’t even as scary as the effects of the sport afterwards. CTE poses a serious risk to the lives of football players after they stop playing. Stories such as Junior Seau’s and Aaron Hernandez’s are plainly horrifying. Both of these former players were severely affected by CTE, their brains severely damaged by the sport they played. As of right now, the only way to diagnose CTE is after someone dies, making it harder for people to know whether they have it or not.

As more and more information has come out about CTE and its effects on players after football, the more people have realized that this sport is just too dangerous to be played. A whole range of celebrities, from LeBron James to Justin Timberlake (who said this at a Super Bowl press conference), have openly said they do not want their kids to play football. Even NFL players, both former and current, have come out in droves saying they don’t want their children playing the sport they’ve made a living off of. Chris Borland, a former NFL linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, retired a little over two years ago over concerns about head injuries. People are becoming more and more aware of what players are doing to themselves on Sundays, and finally they are alarmed about it.

The fact of the matter is that football is just too brutal of a sport to keep going on this trajectory. The NFL has to seriously reevaluate the way football is played. Whether that is adjusting even more regarding what should legally be a hit or changing the way the sport is played entirely, football needs to change if it wants to continue. The old “walk it off” attitude is no longer acceptable. The consequences of football are real, and the pain the players put their bodies through doesn’t end when they stop playing.

So will the NFL exist in 25 years? At this rate, it’s not likely. And honestly, maybe that’s for the better.

Kyle Garcia is the Sports Editor for The Beacon. He can be reached at garciaky20@up.edu. 

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