There is a lot of attention surrounding the recent death
of former NFL linebacker Junior Seau and even more media speculation linking his apparent suicide to a 20 year professional football career. It would seem plausible to assume the "anti-football" advocates have begun to unsheathe their knives anticipating their collective sharpening, as they use this tragic event to demonize the sport of football and further their agenda.
We've all seen this before. Issues of personal tragedy often morph into social concern, spearheaded by credible, passionate advocates that have had their lives personally touched by tragic events. A wake up call for some, a way to honour the memory of a departed loved one for others. Either way, life will never be the same and we hope any change — socially or legislatively — will be for the common good. A quick Google search of "Mothers Against..." quickly finds a litany of advocacy groups headlined by arguably the most influential group of the last quarter century, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. Others, unfortunately fail to gain any political traction and assume the role of fridge advocacy. But nevertheless provide a voice for those affected by its circumstances.
Having government save us from ourselves is not a novel idea. The difference between talk and action would seem to be political currency which in all circumstances if you have enough leads to political will. If enough sympathetic legislators bought into the idea of adopting such "nanny-state" legislation, watching the professional game of football reduced to an old fashion version of two hand touch isn't that far a stretch. Given the current climate concerning head injury and trauma in professional sport, it's not unthinkable. Add in one high profile athlete, generations of former players lined up in litigious fashion and the public outcry it generates, and an idea like that all of a sudden has some legs.
Considering there may be a link between sustained and consistent head shots accumulated over a football career and the untimely death, dysfunction and misery of some of the sports greatest heroes, the punishment doled out in the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal seems almost lenient.
Give the NFL credit. Pre-emptive strikes are not an uncommon strategy in order to maintain control of tenuous situations. And make no mistake — with ongoing legal battles unresolved, high-profile personalities dominating media channels for all the wrong reasons, the NFL is at a critical crossroad within its storied history. It cannot afford to relinquish the instruments of justice and punishment to outside parties, especially government regulators.
So how far away are we before we see legislators eliminating high-speed collisions and the controlled violence that is the game of football?
When one considers that jousting knights and gladiators performing for the glory of Rome in front of thousands were once considered great sport and spectacle, like it or not, the concept of watered down football may just be a few determined politicians away. After all, if we put the barbaric nature and gruesome results aside for a moment (although I've seen and heard those same things said about hockey and football), both those "sports" saw their end while under the control of their respective "state-run authority."
If history, and in this case ancient history, has a way of repeating itself, what version of football we're left to enjoy just may become a campaign issue for politicians in the not too distant future.