Recently, our floundering nation has been divided by the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. Similarly, Sports Nation has been divided by the NFL’s tackling issue, which displaced the national anthem issue, which displaced the is-it-a-catch-or-not issue, which displaced domestic violence, replay review and overtime issues, which displaced team-relocation issues, which displaced the 1925 Chicago Cardinals-Pottsville Maroons championship issue.
Couch Slouch can’t believe roughing the passer would be a red state/blue state issue, but these days, even no-pulp orange juice-vs.-extra-pulp OJ is probably a red state/blue state issue.
(I’m a purple stater: Some pulp!)
It’s tackle football. If you can’t tackle anyone anymore, you have a problem – you don’t have a game.
Football without tackling would be like Congress without pork barrels.
Best I can tell, you can’t hit ’em high and you can’t hit ‘em low. You can’t even fall on ’em as you take ’em to the ground.
There is a fine line between a textbook tackle and roughing the passer, just as there is a fine line between legal tax avoidance and Donald Trump.
(Best training camp prep for the new tackling rules? Twister! That game teaches you how to make contact without smothering others unnecessarily.)
Heck, we might reach the point where you don’t even touch the quarterback, you just serve him with papers.
From a simple marketing standpoint, it makes sense to protect your marquee names. Nobody benefits if Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger all are sidelined, other than maybe Josh McCown.
If Willie Robertson and Uncle Si were on injured reserve for a month, would you still watch “Duck Dynasty”?
There’s an old saying – well, actually, I’m making it up right now – that football is a collision sport, basketball is a contact sport and golf isn’t a sport at all, unless you consider it a sport to hit a stationary small ball with a club and drive a cart to where it lands and hit it again and drive a cart to where it lands again and so on until you finally hit it into a hole.
What this means essentially, besides the obvious part about golf, is that football is violent and damaging to the body, due to repeated blows from large, muscular, helmeted men.
You can change the game to protect the players more, but the multimillion-dollar question is whether the spectators will spectate the changed game.
(Would boxing fans continue to watch boxing if neither fighter were allowed to hit the other in the head? Would MMA fans continue to watch MMA if the combatants couldn’t brawl post-bout?)
Is touch football in our future? We’ll end up with an extraordinary number of replay challenges, especially if it’s two-hand touch football – I mean, we’re talking a whole extra hand to look at to make sure the defender taps the ball carrier.
So maybe flag football is the smart choice. However, this opens up another officiating nightmare in regard to proper placement of the flag(s).
There will be shenanigans – my goodness, this is an open invitation for the New England Patriots to game the system in a whole new manner. You think Bill Belichick won’t be ahead of the curve in terms of the placement of the flag(s) in the waistband or foreign substances to make the flag(s) more difficult to come out?
What America have you been living in?
(Uh, have you ever wondered how the Patriots always win the opening coin toss?)
Anyway, we might be in the midst of a major sea change in which future generations will not abide the body-shattering, brain-damaging standards of 20th-century and early 21st-century football. It’s possible kids will stop playing it in its current form, and adults will stop watching it in its altered form.
Something will have to fill the void.
Which brings us, incredibly, to a possible surge in bowling, poker and billiards. To which I say, “Beer frame, baby!”, “Shuffle up and deal!” and “Rack ’em up!”
Ask The Slouch
Q. As a purveyor of wise and sage counsel, what has life’s experiences taught The Slouch about the value of a University of Maryland degree? (J.P. Madden; Ashburn, Va.)
A. Well, I’ve spent my life watching Skip Bayless on TV, so it’s not as valuable as, say, Larry David’s UMd degree.
Q. Will Mookie Betts’ bowling prowess affect how you mark your American League MVP ballot this year, or will you play it straight? (Bill Pollack; Niskayuna, N.Y.)
A. Mookie Betts is the greatest baseball player of all time.
Q. I fractured my fibula, like you did earlier this year, and am having surgery next week. Any advice? (Richard Williams; San Antonio)
A. I always tip the anesthesiologist beforehand.
Q. We all know that President Trump has a dislike for international agreements such as NAFTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris climate accord. Why didn’t he pull us out of the Ryder Cup? (Fred Hedden; East Greenbush, N.Y.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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