How To Modernize the Game of Football
by Alex Cosper, November 18, 2016
Football is a game that's part of the American cultural fabric, although a century ago it was still an obscure sport on a national level. Radio then television helped popularize the sport. By the 1970s football had surpassed baseball as America's favorite sport. Each year the Super Bowl is consistently the most watched show on television. But how reflective is the sport of today's ideals?
The first noticeable problem with professional football is that it's heavily based on body mass and physical strength more than brain power. Usually the quarterback must be smart in order to improvise and execute a broken play. But many times teams go for the QB with the strongest arm more than the strongest intellect.
On a community level, football is usually a less rough and tough game. It can be played completely without violence by using flags or playing one-hand or two-hand touch. As an exercise at throwing the ball, contact is not necessary at all. So there are ways of making the game more co-ed and less male-exclusive. At one time women were completely banished from the game except for cheerleading roles. Now there are women's football leagues, but again, there's no need to play tackle.
Each decade the NFL alters the rules to make pro football less violent to help curb injuries. The game itself is a reflection of math, angles, stats and strategies that mirror the business world. The way a football field is laid out with yard markers makes it a very numbers-intensive game on the surface. The stats stack up after four quarters of play, just like how a corporation reports earning on a quarterly and annual basis.
So the game is already moving toward less aggression and a more brainy direction, like the game of chess. In order to make it a more all-inclusive sport that allows boys to play with girls, it needs to be even more about measurements of play activity and less about measurements related to the human physique. There are already multiple versions of football (from the original British version of rugby to the current community versions of touch and flag football). In pro football a male under six feet tall is considered short. But in a game of revised rules, size can be completely taken out of the equation.
All you have to do is make a list of rules that all players can agree on that don't discriminate against certain players. The next step is to focus the game on plays more than scoring. The slogan "winning is everything" is a key theme in pro football, but doesn't have to matter on a more friendly level. The idea that winning is all that matters misses the entire point of community sports. In most cases local communities don't keep track of sports history on a community level, so winning doesn't hold as much value as pro teams trying to win championships.
Bringing people together to learn about strategies that move a team ahead gives the game more value. One example of taking aggression and contact completely out of the game is to hang a tire from a tree branch and compete for throwing the ball through the tire.