Many would argue that the NFL is now America’s new pastime. While it is a complicated game (my mom still doesn’t understand the rules), it is a game full of excitment and intrigue. Every Sunday, and now Mondays and Thursdays as well, fans to get to dive into their couches, their buffalo wings, their laptops, and their plasma televisions to catch all the action.
As I’ve written about in this forum before, there are millions and millions of fans of the NFL and not just individual teams. Despite this, many view the league as an evil organization one that does not care about the players or the responsibilities of safety that come with such a violent sport. And, I sort of agree. There have been many instances in the last decade in which the NFL, and mainly Roger Goodell, have not done enough to stop the concussion epidemic. Only once the media grabbed a hold of the problem and there were serious issues and brain studies did the NFL issue new protocols for concussion prevention and medical assistance in-gane. Despite their delay, they now have developed programs and scientific study to determine everything from long term effects, to the best helmets, to psychology studies on the transition for retired players with serious medical problems.
Roger Goodel, the commissioner of the National Football League inplemented a player conduct policy that basically allows him to make decisions and be a dictator when it comes to player discipline. Many of you have probably heard about the Saints bounty scandal. Essentially a coach put hits on certain opposing players to get them hurt and rewarded players with cash that was outside their contracts. The NFL suspended the coach and some of the players involved in the program without a proper appeals process and with one man, Goodell, essentially determining their fates. It is complicated process now, as the players are continuing to take their appeals to court, but who says that the NFL can be a dictatorship when it is a player driven league?
The NFL is an interesting case study on ethics. Despite the fact that they say the league is about the product on the field and the fan experience, they have completely acknowledged and supported the industry of fantasy football and (in some ways) sports gambling. All is not evil though, as they have also developed programs like Play 60, a program aimed at encouraging kids to be active for 60 minutes a day in order to reverse childhood obesity. They have also developed programs to teach young children playing the game how to tackle properly, one of the most important teaching points in all of youth sports.
Overall, the NFL has grown tenfold in the last two decades and has now become THE sport in the America. It will be interesting to see how seriously they continute to take the concussion epidemic and if their efforts will be seen in the way of larger health benefits and player pensions for retired players with seriuos medical needs. The average age of death of an NFL player who has played one play is under 60. That number needs to go up and things like Junior Seau’s suicide need to prevented in order for the league to continue on top and for the sprot of football to continue growing.