In the Hands of the NFL

After reading the article NFL Rules Changes: When is Football No Longer Football?, I now question whether football will lose its power of becoming a paradise for the players and the spectators. The National Football League is starting to make significant changes in the interest of safety that will start to change the game in a large way. For starters, they decided to ban ball-carriers from lowering their helmets into oncoming defenders in an attempt to break free of the tackle. Other major changes include the elimination of the “Tuck Rule” and no more kick-offs in the Pro Bowl. In addition, they have even taken tackling out of preseason camps. All of these changes are designed to make the game safer for the players. Football is a very dangerous sport because you are making contact with your opponent at full speed with great force. However, I wonder whether or not the game will remain the same after all of these modifications.

A hard hit

A dangerously hard hit

In Giamatti’s Take Time for Paradise, he states, “In that moment of vision, of sensation compounded of sight and inside, everyone – participant and spectator – is centered” (24). The players and spectators are consumed by the world of the game. They are not focused on anything else but the competition in front of them. Giamatti explains that people play sports because they want to achieve a paradise that we have lost. This paradise is considered better than our actual lives. If many changes occur in the sport of football, will this paradise be lost?

With these changes, I believe the game would not be the same, as there would be “no more dramatic returns for touchdowns. No more advantage or disadvantage to be won or lost by improving field position. No more exciting, surprising, game-changing onside kicks.” (Tracy). These are all important aspects of the game because they keep the audience and the players guessing who will win the game. The surprises within the games keep the players going hard throughout the entire game, fighting for the win. I also agree with Marc Tracy that football would not be football without tackling.

Not only would the game change for the players, as they would have to learn new rules, but also this would change the intensity for the spectators. The loss of these aspects of the game would definitely cause the spectators and players to lose the paradise that was once created by football. As stated by Giamatti, “the spectator, seeing something he has only imagined, or, more astonishingly, had not yet or would never have imagined possible, because the precise random moments had never before come together in this form to challenge the players” (27). This means that the spectator goes to football games in order to experience something they cannot on their own.

A packed Giants stadium, full of fans awaiting the start of an intense game.

A packed Giants stadium, full of fans awaiting the start of an intense game.

The NFL wants to keep the sport of football as safe as possible but when do they draw the line before ruining the sport completely? Football will never be completely safe because then it just would not be football anymore. As stated in the article, “would football without kick-offs still be football?” (Tracy). “the National Football League needs to figure out what football is”. They have the ability to uphold the tradition of the game or to create a completely new one, it’s all in their hands.

Giamatti, A. Bartlett. 1989. Take time for paradise: Americans and their games. New York: Summit Books.

Tracy, Marc. “NFL Rules Changes: When Is Football No Longer Football?” New Republic. N.p., 2 Aug. 2013. Web.


“Go Fast and Win”

The entrance of Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving.

“More power! More power! More power! Ease off the gas, break, find the apex, look at your exit, more power, more power!” my instructor Rob yelled over the roar of the Corvette zo6. I had just completed a turn on the racetrack on a chilly December morning at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in Arizona last year. I have never been much of a racing enthusiast; I have always found it more interesting to play soccer, football, or basketball despite my dad’s urges to discover the beauty of racing. When my dad signed me up for a 2-day course driving a stick shift Corvette zo6 at Bondurant last year, I knew I was in for a treat. I admit I wasn’t thrilled to be going to Bondurant; I just learned how to drive stick shift and wasn’t very confident in my ability to drive a car with a manual transmission. Instead of trying to convince my dad to get me out of the course, I held my tongue because I knew it was extremely important to him that I do this. Although I was initially told this trip was meant to make me a more skilled driver, in retrospect, it might have also been my dad’s way of showing me how difficult it is to be a racecar driver and instill in me respect for the sport.

Racing a Corvette zo6 at Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in December 2013.

Racing a Corvette zo6 at Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in December 2013.

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Breaking the Barriers in Sports

Barriers Are Meant To Be Broken [1] (wikimedia)

Evolution is defined as the process that allows changes to happen in plants and animals over time. However, it can also be defined as a process of slow change and development. When looking at sports through time, most sporting fans can clearly see the changes that have occurred in light of more crowds, new technology (instant replay), medical advancements (PEDs), and new game strategies. Some of these changes have been for the better while others have not. Despite some possible negatives, most sports fans would agree that sports need to evolve, just like the world, to stay with the times.

One important aspect of sports that may need evolution is the way we divide our sports. Divisions and recognition in sports have led to many conflicts and changes through the years. One example of this issue was brought up in Mika LaVaque-Manty’s book The Playing Fields of Eton where wheelchair athletes felt that they were being treated unfairly in the New York City Marathon.  They argued that they should not be stopped during a marathon (just like any other runner) and should be given a division to recognize people in similar situations. In the court proceedings, their argument won the case, as it was a matter of granting athletes with disabilities equal recognition and fair competition (no stopping during the race). Although LaVaque-Manty brings up this case, later on he warns against too much separation of groups. While divisions do exist in sports to allow fair competition among people with similar abilities, it can sometimes hinder overall equality. A major division that should be examined is the gender division within sports. To understand the background of this division, we need to step back in history.

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What is it really?

Have you ever thought about what college really is?

In my Organizational Studies class, we read Robert Birnbaum’s piece, How Colleges Work. In it, Birnbaum elaborates on the idea that the collegiate system is an anarchical system, a model that can also be described as an “organized anarchy.” Defined by three characteristics, the system has problematic goals, unclear technology, and fluid participation. Much like some authors like Homer and A. Bartlett Giamatti, Birnbaum connects his argument to a sports match and games. Intrigued by the comparison, his piece proposes an interesting way to think of what college really may be, whether it be an anarchy or other type of dominant power.

“Imagine that you’re either the referee, coach, player, or spectator at an unconventional soccer match: the field for the game is round; there are several goals scattered haphazardly around the circular field; people can enter and leave the game whenever they want to; the entire game takes place on a sloped field; and the game is played as if it makes sense.”

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NASCAR: The Ultimate Representation of an American Dream

Still reassuring yourself by saying “the Big House” as the biggest stadium in the Western Hemisphere after the recent fiasco against Spartans? What I am going to talk about might disappointing you because “the Big House” is nothing compared to the largest speedway in the world. As a matter of fact, the majority of NASCAR tracks in the US are larger than “the Big House”, and the largest one among them, the grandiose Indianapolis Motor Speedway, once attracted roughly 400,000 spectators, is practically four times bigger than the highest capacity of “the Big House”.

Aerial view: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Dwarfs “the Big House” (link)

Apparently, from those comparisons and stats, you have already successfully conjectured: the protagonist here is NASCAR. In fact, apart from introducing the history and development of NASCAR, what I am going to argue in this blog post is that: NASCAR (forget about football and baseball) is the actual and genuine “Ultimate Representation” of  an American Dream

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The Regal Coaches

(Public Domain Image)

____________ Ball used in Football (NFL size Football) – [1] ___________ [public domain image – credit: wikimedia]

Football is the quintessential American sport. Like all other sports, it has coaches. In fact, professional (NFL) and college football (NCAA) teams usually have coaches for every position in the offense and the defense. To those of you who are unfamiliar with football, coaches related to the offense (wide receivers coach, tight ends coach, etc.) adhere to the principles and methods of the offensive coordinator. Similarly, all coaches related to the defense (corners coach, safeties coach, etc.) follow the strategy given by the defensive coordinator. Above this hierarchical structure is the head coach position. Both the offensive and defensive coordinators, who are usually selected by the head coach, implement their strategies while adhering to the general principles of the head coach. Ultimately, the head coach is responsible for the success of his team as well as its failures. Since every year counts, failure to produce results with players often leads to a head coach being fired. Additionally, loss of support from players is another cause for head coach dismissal. These reasons explain why many head coaches have had (and lost) several jobs in different teams or universities over their career. There are, however, ways to ensure tenure in a head coach position.

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