The Pussification Of Sports
Warning: playing professional sports can be hazardous to your health! When you suit up you know you could get hurt, even at the couch potato level sports I participate in. Because pros are bigger and faster than ever, some measures are to be expected. Over the past few years the 4 major sports leagues have worked diligently to protect their players with new rules. Some makes sense, others not as much.
For instance, a few years ago the NFL outlawed helmet to helmet hits on players deemed defenseless. The spirit of that rule was to keep players from using the crown of their helmet as a weapon. Makes sense… except for the overzealous way this rule gets applied. I think we can all agree that if a defender is clearly trying to be a headhunter they should be penalized and fined. But the speed of the game is such that helmets can easily make incidental contact with each other. Sometimes players running with the ball duck when a hit is coming and a defender hits their helmet in the process of a tackle. In no way should that player be penalized. Don’t get me started on some of the ridiculous penalties defensive linemen get assessed when they barely graze the helmet of a QB. When my Rams were playing Tennessee a few weeks ago a lineman was flagged for hitting a QB in the chest with his helmet despite the fact that his facemask hit the quarterback in the shoulder. I get protecting the games most valuable stars but you might as well tell the defense they aren’t allowed to hit quarterbacks because the target area you’re allowed to hit legally is smaller than my… bank account (that’s pretty small).
In the National Hockey League they call penalties for “Boarding” which states that “a penalty shall be imposed on any player or goalkeeper who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently in the boards”. I’ve been watching hockey for 40 years and that rule was barely enforced in the 80’s. In an attempt to clean up the game it is now strictly enforced and it makes sense because it’s easy to end someone’s career this way and seriously reduce the quality of the rest of their life.
Baseball however has, just today, taken things too far. Beginning in 2014, Major League Baseball has voted to ban home plate collisions. These have been part of the game for over 150 years. Sure the collisions are dangerous but so is going over the middle for a pass. Because baseball has it’s own internal code players rarely go for the head intentionally. Besides, it’s the catchers who are most at risk and they choose to use their bodies to block the plate so are the owners trying to protect them from themselves? At some point you just have to let the players play.