I don’t watch football for the violence


Christopher Carr

Christopher Carr does stuff and writes about stuff.

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78 Responses

  1. Avatar Bojangles says:

    San D-ie-go super chargers, San D-ie-go super chargers, yea!Report

  2. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    I’m unconvinced, because I think we’re learning that football most often causes brain damage, not by the monster hits that could be outlawed, but by the accumulation of normal-sized hits, without which football wouldn’t be a contact sport.Report

    • Avatar mark boggs in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Yeah, I am not in a position to dig up the article, but I read that they took a bunch of high school offensive lineman and fitted their helmets with sensors to indicate the types and force of hits they were taking just on play-by-play occurences, nothing really outlandish and whiplash-y, just run-of-the-mill blocking plays, and they were amazed by the amount of force, like minor concussion kinds of force these guys endured over the course of a game.


      OK, I went and found it. The one thing they did find was the change in brain function, even among those players who didn’t suffer concussions.

      Finally, notice some of the O-line and D-line player’s helmets sometimes. They’ve got scratches and skid marks all over the front from banging against the other guy’s helmet.Report

  3. Avatar mark boggs says:

    I imagine there are some people who derive much pleasure watching bone-crunching hits and such, but I’m not one of them. I think back to Theisman and Lawrence Taylor, or Steve Young and the Cardinal blitzer who took him out. That shit is scary and horrifying to watch. The fact that other players can continue to play in the very same game after watching those is amazing.Report

  4. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    The appeal of violent sports, and let’s not kid ourselves about the violence, goes right to the core of our tribal little brains. Stylised warfare has formed the basis for group identity since human groups began.

    Linda Schele, of blessed memory, observed the Maya engaged in stylised warfare where few men died. They went to war encumbered in vast costumes and headdresses. They also played a curious courtyard game called pitz or ulama, still played in some places. It seemed to be accompanied by human sacrifice, though we don’t know how the two were related.

    There’s no “I” in team, we’re told. That’s nonsense, of course. It’s all about the individual, just not the individual on the ball court or the gridiron. The individual who watches the game, gets up and rants and gibbers as Christopher Hitchens describes him, he’s the I in team. I am sitting here wearing a Green Bay Packers shirt. I got it as a present for Christmas two years ago from my girlfriend. The vicarious thrill we derive from watching these superb athletes, the hubristic little nuggets of wisdom we dispense about how the Pack might do against the Chargers come August — each such person is the I in team.Report

  5. Avatar balthan says:

    Shortly after the Seau news came out, I cancelled my subscription to DirecTV’s NFL pacakage. Whether or not Seau is ultimately shown to have CTE is beside the point, it’s a move I had been contemplating for a while.

    Even taking head injuries out of the equation, there are strong ethical concerns about paying people to trade their long term health for our entertainment, even if the players are fully informed (which I don’t necessarily think is the case) and willing to make the trade themselves. Adding in a degenerative brain disease just makes my choice clearer.

    It’s still hard not to get caught up in football talk with coworkers, friends, and family.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to balthan says:


      I had a post up on this very topic recently. I find this statement interesting:
      “Even taking head injuries out of the equation, there are strong ethical concerns about paying people to trade their long term health for our entertainment, even if the players are fully informed (which I don’t necessarily think is the case) and willing to make the trade themselves.”
      Will you likewise refuse to watch women’s gymnastics at the Olympics this summer? Will you abscond from eating king crab legs, which are fished under treacherous conditions?

      These aren’t “gotcha” questions, mind you. I’m attempting to suss out where that ethical line ought to be and what our role and responsibility as consumers are.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Kazzy says:

        The thing is, the assumption is that gymnasts are not suffering permanent debilitating injury as a result of their performance. And as for king crab, for most diners you could replace it with imitation “krab” stuffed into a painted ceramic shell and they wouldn’t know the difference–and, again, the risk is generally not the intent. (Sure, for some people there’s a conspicuous-consumption thing; but then, there are some people who do watch football for the hits and watch NASCAR for the wrecks.)Report

        • Avatar Kimmi in reply to DensityDuck says:

          that ought not to be the assumption for ballet.
          HOWEVER, there’s a big difference between “cripple” and “braindamaged”Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to DensityDuck says:

          “The thing is, the assumption is that gymnasts are not suffering permanent debilitating injury as a result of their performance.”
          This same assumption was made about football for a very long time. And there are clear quality of life and health sacrifices that gymnasts (females in particular… I don’t know if the same holds true for male) make to pursue excellence in their sport and entertain us. Maybe not on the level of football, but they’re there.

          As for king crab, I’m personally not the biggest fan of it. I do wonder if the fascination with it stems from the exclusivity of it, which is directly borne out of the danger and difficulty in catching them.

          Mind you, I’m not necessarily agreeing or disagreeing with where balthan, among others, are attempting to draw a line when it comes to the ethics of watching football. But I do get bothered when people reserve all their sanctimony for sports, which far too many media members make their hay doing.Report

      • Avatar balthan in reply to Kazzy says:

        Pro Football was pretty much the one sport I followed. I don’t usually watch the Olympics when it’s on.

        Any athletic endeavor obviously carries risk. I haven’t seen any information on the long-term health of female gymnasts, so I don’t know how “dangerous” it is, but I’ve wondered (especially after the brouhaha over the Chinese gymnasts last time) about the potential impact of training and competing internationally at their relatively young age. Adolescent athletics is certainly something I’ll need to think about more as my own daughter gets older.

        Likewise, I don’t eat crab (or seafood in general), but have watched The Deadliest Catch in the past. If I were to start watching again (is it even still on), that’s something I’d have to ponder.

        And I’m certainly not perfect when making choices. I bought a new smartphone recently and I don’t know if it contains conflict minerals from the Congo. I have electronics that were likely produced at Foxconn. I’d like to be more selective in my choices in the future, or at least more willfully informed of what I may be supporting.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to balthan says:

          Thanks for responding, balthan. Not sure if you are new here or if I just haven’t run across you, but good to have you in the mix regardless.

          I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. All of our discussions have moral and ethical implications. They are harder to ignore when someone on the idiot box is shouting them at us. When the next sports controversy/nontroversy comes up, this will likely pass and, with it, much (but not all) of the ethical issues.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to balthan says:

      even if the players are fully informed (which I don’t necessarily think is the case) and willing to make the trade themselves.

      That’s a good point. In one sense, players views on this ought to be the last one’s considered: they want to play football. It reminds me of a survey of Olympic athletes (which may be an urban myth, for all I know): lots of them conceded that if there was a drug or a training technique or whatever that allowed them to win a gold medal but would kill them a year later, they’d do it.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:

        Don’t we all make these decisions every day? I’d live longer if I never drank beer. But my quality of life would likely suffer. I’ve always maintained that I’d rather live 70 great years than 80 good years or 90 average years.

        To get back to balthan’s point, he sees an ethical issue with seeking entertainment from folks who trade their health for a paycheck. Turning the situation around a bit, is there an ethical issue for a brewer who derives his paycheck from my decision to trade my health for a bit of entertainment?Report

  6. Avatar Kimmi says:

    Sports are not part of some deep tribal ancestry thingy. They’re relatively recent (at least team sports, which is what we’re focusing on).
    [again, insert unpc comment about homosexuality and football]Report

  7. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Great piece. As I started it, I was tempted to yell, “OF COURSE YOU WATCH IT FOR THE VIOLENCE! YOU JUST DON’T THINK OF IT THAT WAY. YOU WOULDN’T WATCH THE NFL IF IT WAS TOUCH, WOULD YOU?!?!” Reading the rest of it, I see that you took a very nuanced and interesting perspective on the matter.

    Most of us don’t enjoy watching others experience pain. We might enjoy the drama or excitement of a big hit, but we pretty much usually want both guys to get up and dust themselves off afterwards. But humans, I think, enjoy conflict. A story isn’t a story without some type of conflict. Physical conflict seems to tap into a more primal sense, as it was the primary means of resolution amongst our ancestors but is increasingly rejected for the same purposes nowadays. So we seek “appropriate” outlets to indulge in physical conflict, as both participants and as spectators. Football is a perfect avenue, especially since it is a bit more sanitized than sports like MMA and boxing, which allows us to pretend we’re not watching for the violence.

    Again, great piece.Report

    • If there were the same level of athletic talent on display and the huge media machine behind it that the modern NFL has and 60,000 screaming fans and 50 years of tradition behind it, I’d watch professional flag football in a heartbeat.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to James Vonder Haar says:

        Why do you need other fans and tradition and a media machine? I get the athletic talent, but why the rest? That seems to point directly at the tribalism… you want to be part of something bigger.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

          Ever try following a sport nobody cares about? It’s not nearly as much fun. I think Arena Football is actually superior to the regular game, but it’s not as fun when others aren’t paying attention.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

            Oh, sure. That is why millions (billions?) of folks watch the Super Bowl but not a single regular season game. I wasn’t criticizing JVH, just pointing out what I thought was obvious but going unsaid. I’d argue it is human nature to want to be part of something bigger. Sports offers an amazing and easily accessed avenue for that.Report

        • Avatar James Vonder Haar in reply to Kazzy says:

          Yeah, sure. The sense of community and history is important. But not, I think, as important as the horse race that surrounds the whole thing. I get a lot more enjoyment out of debating power rankings, comparing historical teams, figuring out what to do with my fantasy team, and making predictions on how the season will go than I get out of watching the actual games, though those are fun, too. And none of that is possible if no one else is really passionately engaged. Sporting events are one type of good whose consumption actually produces positive externalities for the other people who use it. Like the internet.Report

  8. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    The whole thing sounds like that old “traffic lights cause traffic accidents” thing; that is, allowing people to take more risks results in more failures.

    Maybe the solution to the problem of repetitive brain injury is to eliminate helmets. The idea being that the helmets don’t protect you well enough against repeated impacts, but they feel protective and encourage risky behavior.

    Or, maybe, have the helmets include crushable liners that are replaced after every play.Report

    • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to DensityDuck says:

      That’s not a trivial point. When I was playing football back in the day, we were specifically taught to use our helmets as a third arm to either ring someone’s bell, force a fumble, or reinforce a solid wrap-up. You seldom see the head used in this fashion in other similar contact sports like rugby or ice hockey.Report

    • Avatar Simon K in reply to DensityDuck says:

      There are games very similar to football and just as violent that are played without any protection except a gum guard and a cup. Both versions of Rugby and Aussie rules football, for example. Rugby players don’t hit so hard as foot players and they don’t get brain damage. On the other hand they do get all kinds of horrible musculo-skeletal injuries …Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DensityDuck says:

      Another comment about “no helmets means fewer head injuries”

      Really, I’m thinking about that oft-cited “traffic intersection in Europe where they removed all the stop signs” thing.Report

  9. FWIW, I see kids with concussions from football consistently throughout the season. It easily outpaces all the other sports combined in that regard.

    And one of the few absolute prohibitions I have for my son’s future is that he will absolutely not play tackle football.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Russell Saunders says:

      Mike Golic, a former NFL player who makes up half of the radio duo “Mike and Mike in the Morning” made an interesting point today, namely that a very tiny percentage of children who take up football make it to the NFL and sustain any sort of career. Right now, research points to NFL-ers struggling with long-term health issues as a result of their playing careers. There doesn’t seem to be any research on players who peak at college, high school, or younger. I have no doubt that kids suffer concussions at all levels, but it is very possible that there are little to no long term impacts for playing full-contact football as a youth but ceasing at 14 or 18 or 22. Mike Greenberg (the other Mike) made the always silly argument that if just one kid suffers from football, it is a MASSIVE problem. That made me want to shout, since neither guy is usually prone to such hyperbole.

      But it is worth considering. Football may far outpace baseball when it comes to concussions among children. But if the incidence rate of concussions among sub-18 football players is 10% and only 10%* of those who suffer concussions endure any sort of long-term ill effects, we are looking at a mere 1% of sub-18 players. That is tiny! Kids engage in a number of activities with equal or greater likelihood of long-term harm without anyone testifying in front of Congress about it.

      The assumption that many folks make when insisting they will never let their child play football is that they will be the next Junior Seau. That is like saying you’d never let your child enter politics because he might end up the next JFK. The odds are your kid hangs up his helmet long before his voice cracks.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        * These numbers are completely made up. If anyone knows the real numbers and they challenge my assumed ones here, I’m happy to revisit my theory and/or eat crow.Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Kazzy says:

        I agree with everything in here, except for this: “Mike Greenberg (the other Mike) made the always silly argument that if just one kid suffers from football, it is a MASSIVE problem. That made me want to shout, since neither guy is usually prone to such hyperbole.

        Mike Greenberg is absurdly prone to such hyperbole. Golic much less so.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mark Thompson says:


          I suppose I’m viewing him in the context of other sports personalities, especially those with ESPN. I tend to see the two Mikes as two of the more reasoned folks on their various networks. Which isn’t saying much, given the current state of broadcasting.Report

          • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Kazzy says:

            With this I can fully agree. Skip Bayless, anyone?

            Although I quite like Scott Van Pelt’s show.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mark Thompson says:

              Skip Bayless should be shot. Once, in a conversation about a divide along racial lines of players’ perceptions of Michael Vick, he felt the need to bring up Lil’ John because something-something crazy black people.

              I went to a taping of the Stephen A. Smith show once, back when he had his own television show. It was amazing to see how he was between takes, when he bantered off-the-cuff with the audience, compared to how he was when the cameras were rolling. Smart, succinct, reasoned, nuance, no shouting… everything you’d WANT to see. But folks need a shtick. You don’t get ahead in the game being smart, succinct, reasoned, and nuanced. You get ahead by shouting in increasingly high octaves and bugging your eyes out.

              Along these same lines, Chris Webber’s game analysis has been amazing during this year’s playoffs. However, he is also a fairly mellow and understated guy, with most of his charisma being subtle. Which means he’ll be canned in the off-season so they can bring back Bill Walton to whine about the Grateful Dead or something.


              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

                Skip Bayless should be shot.

                I do read this blog for the violence.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                New Blog Title… “Let me tell you why Skip Bayless should be shot…”

                Best of all, you can swap out Skip Bayless’s name for just about anyone!Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

                Jim Rome is a somewhat guilty pleasure of mine. It seems like a weird thing to say, I know, but his show has a genuine moral center. Most sports talk-show hosts rip people because they’re playing badly, but when Rome really rips into someone, it’s because they’re behaving inexcusably. e.g. when Odalis Perez stopped giving away Dodgers tickets to underprivileged kids because he didn’t feel he got enough recognition for it.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Holy crap, did Perez really do that?

                I had a coach that instilled a value in my long ago. Basically, he had no problem with physical errors. There were times you were going to swing and miss or drop the ball or stumble around the base paths. These things happen. He’d never get mad at us for these. The problems arose when we committed mental errors. Not knowing the number of outs and failing to properly advance on a two out liner was a huge no-no. Etc.
                REAL problems arose when mental errors led to physical errors. When one of our pitchers didn’t follow the prescribed warm-up protocol and got bombed, the coach lit into him like I never saw. And he was dead right to. He didn’t mind the guys velocity or location being off. But he sure as hell minded that they were off because they kid was goofing off pre-game.

                We didn’t really have many “moral” errors, but those would seem to be on another level entirely.

                This, in part, has informed the approach I’ve taken thus far with the sports posts on MD (PLUG!). X’s and O’s are fun to talk about, but I tend to be more interested in the bigger meaning of sports. I might have to check Rome out. Is there a button on the remote that eliminates his smugness?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                TV Rome (whom I can’t stand) and radio Rome (where he treats the more intelligent callers more or less as equals) are different personas.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Holy crap, did Perez really do that?

                He was a Dodger at the time. What do you expect?Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mark Thompson says:

          Ugh… now I’m thinking of Michael Kay. Which makes me think of how much I hate Michael Kay. DAMN YOU, THOMPSON!Report

      • Avatar Russell Saunders in reply to Kazzy says:

        It may be that only a small fraction of those who sustain concussions go on to long-term problems. I think the data are still too limited and preliminary to know with any confidence. But even the short-term negative consequences can take an inordinately high toll on quality of life, academic performance, etc. And there’s just no way that I will allow my own child to be exposed to any significant risk of long-term neurological or cognitive disability for the sake of playing a game.Report

  10. Avatar Stillwater says:

    I’m with you about the violence:enjoyment thing. I watch football for the same reasons you do – the elegance, the chess match, athleticism, teamwork, etc all performed at a really high rate of speed and with a lot of strength and power – but I think that enjoyment would go down if we overly restricted the types of hits players could make (the normal hard hit for example). But I’m also with Schilling in that the NFL’s concussion problem isn’t the result of one or two head shots, but repeated blows taken over the course of a career. I don’t know what they can do about that other than find better headgear.

    Hockey also has the same problems. Concussions are becoming more of a factor in player health and safety, and a bigger concern for the League. In that case, tho, if the NHL made eliminated fighting made shoulder to helmet hits majors (or worse), I think the game would actually improve. Because like you and football, I like hockey despite it’s violence: I’d love to see a cleaner, less violent game which let the skill set of the players shine a bit brighter.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Stillwater says:

      it’s a better argument for hockey. you could probably make a damn fine touch hockey game (or one where bodies of players weren’t being used as inertia laden weapons of destruction)Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

      Actually, now that I think about it, the shoulder/elbow to head hit is banned in some sense of that word. The league has gone so far as to review plays after the fact and hand out suspensions, etc.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:

      College hockey, Olympic hockey, and European hockey all tend to be a lot less physical. I’m not sure about the last two, but I know the first bans fighting. The overly physical, goonish hockey is uniquely American (even the Canadians fret about it at times), with the assumption being that it is the only way for Americans to keep up with their faster, quicker, and more skilled foreign counterparts. Hockey is the sport I know the least about, so I’ll defer to others, but having watched some other leagues and having gone to a hockey powerhouse for college, it is certainly possibly to maintain all the excitement of the game while reducing a lot (but not all) of the violence and physicality.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kazzy says:

        Yeah, I agree. Euro hockey, for example, is much more like Euro soccer (phootball!): an emphasis on puck possession, skating and strategic breakdowns of the opponents defense. I think you might be right that they ban fighting over there, but since the game itself is so different, fighting never emerges as a part of the game the way it does in the NHL. As a hockey fan, I’d love for us to eliminate fighting from the game entirely. Then the goons would be replaced by skill players, which is a win-win from my pov.Report

      • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Kazzy says:

        I’d argue that college hockey is more “physical” in that there is little tolerance for goonish behavior and fewer stand-out stars that the only way to win is with positioning, solid body checks, etc. In the NHL, you’ll see an enforcer just plaster someone and take a two-minute roughing penalty, time and time again, because the game isn’t based on fundamentals: it’s based on star-power.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Stillwater says:

      I do agree that hockey seems like a better sport, in terms of long-term player health, than football. Unfortunately it takes a lot more equipment and training to play hockey than it does to play football, so it’s less likely that people will have personal experience of the sport; and that concept of personal experience is a large part of what makes football popular. Hockey needs sticks and (usually) skates and (sometimes) a specialized playing surface; football just needs a largish patch of ground and a ball. The ground doesn’t even have to be prepared all that well, unlike basketball which needs a hard surface or soccer which needs a good field for the ball to roll.Report

  11. Avatar Will Truman says:

    It’s worth pointing out that a strong majority of hits don’t actually happen during the games we’re watching. They happen during practice. The real question is not “Would we still enjoy it if we further restricted how tackling occurs in games” but rather “Would we still enjoy it if players were made worse tacklers by heavily restricting their ability to practice tackling?”Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Will Truman says:

      Alternatively, “would we still enjoy football if the players had protective gear commensurate with what we now know are the actual risks of the game?”

      I’m picturing some sort of giant foam triangle that attaches to the player’s shoulder pads and extends across and about a foot above the head.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:


      I’d venture to guess that there are safe ways to teach and practice tackling, such that there wouldn’t be a massive decline in the quality of the game. These tactics tend to be eschewed, in large part because coaches get their rocks off by watching folks below them in the power pecking order destroy each other in the name of gaining coach’s affirmation.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

        As it stands now, any decline would be unacceptable if the other coaches aren’t experiencing it. My alma mater had pad and hit-free practices (except once a week) one season because we had an unusual amount of small speedsters and injury-prone players without a lot of depth (due in part to the injury-proneness). I don’t know that I would call what happened a “massive decline,” but it was notable against the teams we were playing who were beating one another up in practice. It only lasted one season and the defensive coordinator was a scapegoat (he didn’t institute the policy, and he laterally moved to be the DC of an equivalent program).Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

          Oh, yea, of course. It would have to be an across the board change, likely mandated from the top down.

          The GAME could survive a GAME-wide shift. Any individual team likely wouldn’t.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

            I completely agree. There actually have been some moves in this direction among the less competitive and more academic leagues. I think the Ivy League limits themselves to 2 full-pad practices a week. And since they play a relatively insular schedule and don’t perform in broader competition (they don’t do playoffs), they can afford to as a unit. I think it would be a positive thing for HS and the NCAA to do it as a unit, as well, and if push came to shove they absolutely would.

            (I will note that there are people who would disagree with us, and who believe that it would be extremely detrimental.)Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

              Gregg Easterbrook always talks about the ass backwards nature of change in football. If the NFL adapted certain safety procedures, you’d see almost immediate and universal adoption of them. Helmets, mouth guards, practice conditions… Goodell could improve these across the board, for NFLers AND kids alike, with a few well-thought-out changes. But the NFL has had their head in the sand, leading to a slow trickle up that leads to changes in dribs and drabs and allows the problem to persist.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                Interestingly, in baseball, little leagues went forward with full face-guard helmets without leadership from the MLB. I wonder why that is?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

                I’d say a primary reason is that LL has a centralized system that I don’t believe most other sports have. A quick Google search shows several governing agencies for basketball, football, and soccer. LL is really the only game in town for baseball.

                Additionally, I think there is a more evident impact of face guards. The difference between a baseball helmet with and without a face guard is obvious. One allows the possibility of getting hit in the face with the ball and one doesn’t. The difference between two football helmets that otherwise look identical but have different types of padding or shock absorption or whatever is harder to see and, thus, likely a harder sell.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                LL is really the only game in town for baseball.

                Hurm. Not where I grew up, actually. We had a local feel-good league (everybody plays) and a more competitive-minded national organization (PONY League) that wasn’t LL. The LL existed, though that was the league the rich kids over in that other town played. We called all of these things “little league” (the same way we call Coca-Cola and Pepsi “coke”).

                Good point about visibility.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

                Is that still the case? We had three leagues… two of which I know for a fact were LL and the third one eventually dissolved or shrunk to near nothingness. The third initially grew out of the Orthodox Jewish population’s need to not play on Saturday, but as the primary town league became more Orthodox, they simply adopted that as the rule to accommodate. This was back in the 90’s.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

                And while there may be other leagues, I don’t think they compare to LL. Pop Warner, the largest youth football league, “only” operates in 43 states.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

                By the latest numbers I could find, LL proper is about 2 million kids, and Babe Ruth another million.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

                I stand corrected. In my hometown you played Babe Ruth after you aged out of LL. I assumed that was the norm. I defer back to the “visibility” theory, if only because Will endorsed it!Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

                When did that happen? My son played LL until about 4 years ago. There were other safety-related changed (pitch counts, breakaway bases), but no face masks. My daughter’s softball league did face masks, but they also did silly things like having two first bases (one for the fielder, one for the runner) to avoid collisions there.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                When I was in high school (late 90’s) the girl’s softball leagues used the double-base.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

                My high school only used it in the orchestra.Report

  12. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Baseball is a much less violent sport than football, of course. There are only a few situations where contact is tolerated:

    * Baserunners taking out an infielder to prevent a double play
    * “Purpose” pitches
    * Collisions at the plate

    It’s very rare for the first to cause any injuries. The play is much more about the threat of contact than actual contact. In the second, because the risk of serious injury is so high, even the pantomime of drilling a hitter (e.g. throwing behind him) is enough to cause brawls and ejections. And a pitcher who intentionally hits someone anywhere near the head would face at least a long suspension, if not expulsion from the game.

    The last one is the strangest. It can cause very serious injuries, like Buster Posey losing most of last year to being hurt in a completely clean collision. (There wasn’t a second’s serious thought about punishing or even admonishing the guy who ran into him.) Nor did the depth of the injury (which wasn’t, thank God, career-ending, but could have been) result in a serious reconsideration of the play. It’s part of baseball, in fact, one of the most exciting plays in baseball. If the catcher can’t set himself properly, he needs to get out of the way and try for a sweep tag.

    The strange part is, there’s nothing in the rules that says the catcher can block the plate in the first place. The classic bang-bang play where the catcher blocks the runner off the plate, receives the ball, and turns to tag the runner (who hasn’t been able to get through or around the catcher to touch home plea) is, by the rule book, interference, and the runner should be awarded the run. The rules are de facto ignored to allow this bit of violence.Report

  13. Avatar Steve S. says:

    I’ve also read here and there over the years that football is a gigantic outlet for frustrated homoerotic fantasies.

    Your basic point is well-taken. If it’s only about the violence then there are plenty of better entertainment choices than football. Horse racing, for instance. Or dramatic television. I mean, if the Martians are monitoring our prime time drama broadcasts they must be convinced that the human race is evenly divided between police, forensics experts, and violent sex criminals. Probably deters them from invading our planet.Report

  14. One watches football for the skill used to win within the margins of the field and within the boundaries of the rules; football is celebrated because teams win. Anyone celebrating the violence does not understand the skill needed to play the game well.Report

  15. Avatar Wilburn says:

    I love watching football game, and also other games. Now a days we don’t see much violence in game, it’s a great news for sports lover. Now we see some rivalry, I think people enjoy this. But this is not violence.Report