Interesting Take On Tackling

I have been fortunate to be in some great email “groups” with information that surrounds the playing of sports.  Of course I have been attracted to concussion and those ancillary problems surrounding the brain injury.  It not only furthers, the some time outrageous, fodder but it also provides some critical thinking.

Matt Chaney has been doing a great job of circulating information – mainly about football – and from time to time I get some links that I feel would be best shared for “group thought process”.  A quick aside: Chaney’s blog has been removed from cyberspace due to some confounding issues on the user end, but he will dredge up his information in the coming weeks and re-launch his blog.  Back to the post…

Here is how Chaney describes this forthcoming link:

–super piece by a very interesting writer, an outstanding athlete-scribe, Doug Brown in Canada, former CFL D-lineman… he nails NFL rule-making as lousy lipstick on the pig… great points on the folly of ‘proper form’ or Heads Up or ‘safe tackling’ especially in the head-on avenues of football contact, or the ‘allies’ on-field, as Brown refers…. the tunnel effect of forward contact… though I don’t see any wall-in by other players as necessary for a head-on collision; it’s all about angles of intersecting opponents, and all you need are two principals incoming, ballcarrier and tackler, each with his mission…. boom!…. Doug Brown

I share his sentiments on the article, it brings to light some of the things we CANNOT get rid of in current football.  But does that make the game “unsafe”?  That is the penultimate question; further if it is a problem how can it even be solved?

Here is an excerpt from Doug Brown’s article that appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press;

When an offensive and defensive player meet in an alley, the options for tackling from an angle, or putting your head to the side of the ball carrier are absent. Instinct and self preservation in football tells a ball carrier to lower his head and shoulder pads when he anticipates a collision. Hitting a ball carrier above the knees yet below the helmet line then becomes very difficult when your opponent braces and bends forward for contact. The only way to tackle a player in an “alley,” and avoid contacting his helmet when he has lowered his shoulders, is to hit him at the knees, or even lower.

Unlike other professional sports, football also has the problem of extreme size discrepancies between players. There is no other contact sport in the world where two players can be on the field at the same time, and one can outweigh another by more than 150 pounds. If you start fining players for hitting too low, on top of hitting too high, some defensive backs are going to find themselves in some very compromising, potentially dangerous situations. Players often hit very low when the only other option available is to get slammed by another player who outweighs them by 80 pounds.

I keep going back to my thoughts on all sports, not just football.

Today’s sports were created over 100 years ago; when impetus and importance of the recreational activity was much different.  More importantly the athlete of yesteryear is merely a small shadow of today’s athletes.  I think a case of today’s high school athletes being the same size and ability of 100 year’s ago “professional athletes” could be made and be dang near correct.

The thought of bigger, faster, stronger cannot be changed – athletes do their best to be the best at what they do, and this is a byproduct of that.  And because of that, if we deem that things are unsafe, then we must make changes.  Uncomfortable and often unpopular changes.

If we all could stop looking at the problem from only one angle and branch out a bit, perhaps we can all find solutions that will be as least invasive as possible.

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