*The National Football League (NFL) has decided to emphasize its rules regarding high force collisions in an attempt to curtail concussions.
On one side of this issue is the NFL Commissioner and owners. They are trying to make the game of football less violent for two reasons. 1. Less violence means more family friendly. 2. Less violence means a likelihood that more marquee names will continue to participate throughout the season and longer careers. Of course it is logical for owners to do what they can to ensure continuing revenue streams.
On the other side of this issue are the players. For many players the new emphasis on contact plays decreases the authenticity of the sport. Of course it is logical for players to be upset because the new emphasis on contact, which will likely alter the way players have been playing their entire careers, can mean more fines and suspensions which cuts into their revenue stream.
On the surface then, it seems that both sides are simply thinking about the current state of their bank accounts. But the new emphasis and the changing of the way football is played will have serious long term consequences as well.
The collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the basic contract between labor and management in the NFL (and make no mistake NFL players are simply higher paid laborers making a living off of their bodies the same way factory workers do, while owners are management profiting from the work put in by labor), expires at the end of this season. Two issues will make negotiations for the next CBA contentious. 1. An 18 game regular season. 2. Medical benefits for retired players.
By trying to make the games less violent NFL owners are putting themselves in a position to argue that an extra two games would not be physically taxing enough to warrant significant increases in pay to the players. Furthermore by trying to make the games less violent NFL owners are trying to put themselves in a position to argue that retired players will not deserve or need league provided medical coverage.
Professional football is the most popular spectator sport in the United States. So this new emphasis is not really about protecting current revenue – nothing is threatening owners’ current revenue. The new emphasis on contact is all about the owners trying to ensure increased revenues in the future through more games and less medical expenses. Still an understandable goal, but a goal that is transparently greedy and therefore a goal that no one wants to acknowledge.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. You can reach him at [email protected]