Open Phones: The Future of Football

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A young football player adjusts his helmet before a game in a scene from Steve James’ “Head Games” (Courtesy Variance Films)

Has your opinion of football changed as we find out more and more about the toll the game takes on its players? We take your calls to find out. 

Call in at 212-433-9692 or leave a comment below.

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Comments [37]

Noach from Brooklyn

I know this is off-topic but hearing Sen. McCain just now on the news, I felt I had to follow-up my previous post.

I did not mean to imply that ALL of the people questioning Hagel are "chickehawks".

Jan. 31 2013 12:07 PM
Noach from Brooklyn

@Eugenia from Queens:

"It all bears a striking resemblance to the paid volunteer gladiators of Roman times!"

Or our military today...

As we post, a veteran of combat is being interrogated by chicken-hawk inquisitors...

Jan. 31 2013 11:47 AM
Eugenia from Queens

Brian and the first called brought up the issue of class and how it ties in with the culture of football in the U.S. The game offers disadvantaged youth a stepping stone to higher education and a better life. As society learns more about the dangers of the game, only those convinced that the benefits outweigh the risks will pursue it, while the rest of us will get to keep our treasured spectacle. It all bears a striking resemblance to the paid volunteer gladiators of Roman times!

Jan. 31 2013 11:40 AM
Bill from Maplewood

Reality: football will adapt but not disappear AND the only way to make football safe is not to play. Hard to navigate between the two, but a choice to be made.

I played football, and rugby, and both poorly. When my son came of age I did nothing to encourage him. He swam, played baseball, soccer and I was thrilled that he sidestepped football. As a HS freshmen he was drawn to the sport at a very serious football school and wasn't bad. That steadily turned into good; good enough to get looks for college programs.

He has been hurt- in fact seriously hurt enough to require leg surgeries twice in one year. And yet the benefits football gave him were still worthwhile. Being on a football team gave him confidence, a sense of accomplishment and allowed him to experience directly the cause and effect of hard work. Sports can also be a place where a sense of community and diversity can be experienced- often one of the few diverse activities young men have. Not the only place but for some young men one of the best and most lasting.

My son now plays in college. I admit that I am on edge every game for fear of his getting hurt again and in some new way. I am all for every idea that makes the sport safer. But my son draws from his football experience constantly. It would be difficult to imagine football not a part of his life.

Jan. 31 2013 11:39 AM
rude boy from Williamsburg

Has anybody studied the head injuries in Rugby and Australian football?
How do they compare?
Does wearing no helmet make it less or worse?
Helmets only help in direct crashes and DON'T prevent traumatic head injuries due to concussions!Helmets & all the other body armor might give the illusion of a false security....
Maybe a change of rules might help, otherwise football will go the way of gladiator fights...
If high paid NFL millionaires want to take the risk, but of overy NFL player, there are 10.000 of kids and thousands of underage high school players...

There are alternative, less harmful team sports out there!

Jan. 31 2013 11:36 AM
Evelyn from Queens, NY

NO, too many ppl love football....don't they have EXTREME Sports???
....they will just change the name to Extreme Football and allow the hits -
Folk love this and you'll find exetremist that will continue playing -

Jan. 31 2013 11:33 AM
davie from New Jersey

If one studies the anatomy of the brain it is not surprising that injuries can occur very easily. The future of football is without doubt questionable especially for younger players.

Jan. 31 2013 11:31 AM
John A

A complete sensor for the inside of the helmet can and should be made. They'd come in at about $5 each, for us nonpros. Has to happen.

Jan. 31 2013 11:28 AM
Michael from Chelsea

I don't know what will happen to Football, but I do know that what George WIll thinks will happen in the future is almost always wrong.

Jan. 31 2013 11:27 AM

Is this really a conversation??

The sooner this MORONIC sport is not of a any kid's life, the better

Jan. 31 2013 11:25 AM
The Truth from Becky

Why are the women dominating this conversation? Where are the Dads? Life is a risk, the same injuries can be sustained in a car accident. Women raising a nation of metro-sexual pansies!!!

FYI...I am not a football fan.

Jan. 31 2013 11:24 AM
Mike from Tribeca

Noach from Brooklyn-- The Kennedy administration ended 49 years ago.

Jan. 31 2013 11:24 AM

Evolution will take the path it always does in this country.

Advancing from the coasts and grinding to a halt at the Mason-Dixon line.

Jan. 31 2013 11:23 AM
Renee from Greenwich

Freakonomics has a great podcast "The Dangers of Safety" 2/6/2012 they suggest that the better the protective equipment the harder the hits the players make and take. Do they have the same injuries in Rugby where players have no protective equipment at all?

Jan. 31 2013 11:23 AM
Kate from Manhattan

I have an 8 year old son who plays hockey. He loves the sport, I love how active it is for him and that he's working with a team. But this is a major concern for me and many other parents. Currently, the coaches are very careful about how the kids play -- there is no checking (at least until 14), there is no fighting, players are ejected if they get even a little bit rough. But, unless there is a major change in the upper levels about protecting kids, and until the NHL and the minor hockey leagues get rid of fighting, this is not a sport he'll be able to continue. I'm very torn because I think its a wonderful sport, and is beautiful when played as a sport. But the fighting is killing the sport.

Jan. 31 2013 11:21 AM
Noach from Brooklyn

What about "touch" football?

I hope the first family will be influential in setting an example.

Jan. 31 2013 11:20 AM
JT from NJ

Caller, the new helmets are NOT anti-concussive as they do not stop the brain from hitting the inside of the skull when the moving head stops suddenly.

Jan. 31 2013 11:19 AM
George Showman from Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

How does rugby stack up in terms of head injuries, risks, etc.? No helmets there... perhaps that actually helps protect?

Jan. 31 2013 11:19 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Mr. Will is correct. People consciously opt to wear (or make their children wear) helmets for bicycling, batting at baseball, motorcycle riding, boxing, et al, because of the risk of head injury.

Our heads are the most valuable payload we have. Without our brains being in working order, we cannot function optimally.

Why anyone would knowingly expose him/herself or his/her children to the risk of head injury is just plain irresponsible. It would be like permitting one's loved ones to drink to excess or use illicit drugs or even to drink and drive.

Football is a high risk sport that depends primarily on violent physical contact for scoring. I think it's time for it to stop. As a matter of fact, as a sport, it doesn't really offer that much of a challenge with the exception of surviving head injury after head injury. There are far more exciting, challenging, physically satisfying experiences to be had.

And, in answer to the current caller, it is not merely the head injuries and helmets that are in question, but the risk of spinal cord injury with head impacts.

Jan. 31 2013 11:18 AM
Stephanie from Lower east side

I have a hard time believing America will give up football that soon (maybe 50 years?) but what about boxing or any other high contact sport? Will they just change the rules? Would football lose its appeal, for those diehard fans, if the rules banned those hard hits and body slams and found a balance between what it is now and touch football?!

Jan. 31 2013 11:18 AM
The Truth from Becky

This is as ridiculous as the kids I see riding down the street with the Helmet, Elbow Pads, Knee Pads did we manage to stay alive???

Jan. 31 2013 11:16 AM
David from Manhattan

Torn somewhat; I played through College and a short term semi-pro.
As far as I know I only had 2 incidents in all that time. BUT found out much later
- in my mid 30's- that Doctors "would have recommended your parents keep you out of contact sports". This, it turned out is due to a genetic defect which inclines toward higher incidence of injury: sprain, strain, dislocation, separation, etc. Most of which I incurred, but not knowing "why". Also I have a 50/50 chance of passing this on to my children.

Jan. 31 2013 11:16 AM
Henry from Manhattan

Luckily there’s an international field sport with the same that the rest of the world plays that isn’t based on bodily contact.

But, American football isn’t going away anytime soon, not with its current popularity.

Jan. 31 2013 11:16 AM
Jen from Brooklyn

The NFL is making too much money for football to disappear. High school & college programs are the farm system for the NFL. College practices could actually cause more damage because of more hard hitting practices. I think the NFL will try to help reduce head injury by further research, but football will not disappear.

Jan. 31 2013 11:16 AM

Are they kidding? We just learned these sports were dangerous??? American football is an outlet for aggression and violence. Anyone who ever played tackle football in the yard knows it can be dangerous. I remember when my father wouldn't let me box because he said I was too young to put damage to my body like that. My father didn't need a scientific study. He used common sense.

Jan. 31 2013 11:15 AM
Capper from NYC

I think football will disappear eventually, unless there are those who will continue to allow their kids to play. You need a heck of a lot more people to make a football team in each generation as opposed to the one boxer who needs only one other opponent in the ring. I certainly wouldn't let my kids play football and most other parents I now feel the same way.

Jan. 31 2013 11:14 AM
The Truth from Becky

That is NOT true, parents don't "look the other way" for the money!! Some kids are just plain good at it and it is their passion, they WANT to play.

Jamie is overly dramatic and denying her kid...turning down the radio

Jan. 31 2013 11:14 AM

Foam helmuts! There's got to be a way to make better helmuts. Not for protection, but so that they can't be used as weapons as there are now.

Jan. 31 2013 11:13 AM
John Tucker

This was my first season without watching any football, a self-imposed "protest" ban that does not extend to the rest of my family. I cannot conscienably watch men ruin their lives any longer.

I do not allow my three sons to play, leading them to soccer instead, but now the science on head injuries in soccer is getting scary, too!

Jan. 31 2013 11:12 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Another reason to shun this sport? Steubenville and the violent, permissive culture surrounding the game.

Jan. 31 2013 11:12 AM
Tony from Canarsie

Does this mean George Will will now stop writing incredibly boring books about baseball and start writing incredibly boring books about football?

Jan. 31 2013 11:12 AM

My son is headed into high school. He used to do Martial Arts but I bought the best equipment possible for protecting him and the sensei were all about control -- so hard kicks or punches to the head were unacceptable and never happened. In fact, apart from one incident when he didn't wear protective gear for his private, he was never really hurt in Martial Arts. He has played some flag football, but he has always been short. Even though his recent growth spurt makes it seem like he will be much taller than my husband, he's not going to be tall or heavy. I'm grateful that my son is really too small to play football in high school. I'm encouraging him to join some sort of sports team, but happy he has not mentioned football. And no, he doesn't play hockey either.

Jan. 31 2013 11:12 AM
Joel from Nyack

Why limit the question to high school & college football. There are thousands of 8 year olds and older playing in organized leagues across the country.They are certainly as much at risk or more at risk than older kids.

Jan. 31 2013 11:11 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

I refuse to watch this sport anymore. No children should be allowed to play full contact football. It pains me that my tax money subsidizes these franchises.

Jan. 31 2013 11:08 AM
John A

If the NFL doesn't sponsor at least a 30 minute segment on CTE research and prevention this weekend then they've made a mistake.

Jan. 31 2013 11:08 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Football disappear? Never. Not in my lifetime. Too much profit and tax money tied up in the sport.

Jan. 31 2013 11:07 AM
Noach from Brooklyn

Let's not forget how violent hockey is.

Jan. 31 2013 10:47 AM

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