Borland's Brain

Mar 25, 2015

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.- Charles Darwin

Chris Borland will survive because he was the most responsive to change. The NFL, only time will tell.

Chris Borland, San Francisco 49er linebacker retires after his rookie year in the 'n' the age of 24. Was the surprise retirement out of fear of brain damage or common sense about the obvious risks of playing the game. 

SO - how responsive is the NFL as it finds itself on the path of suicide....? The game of football is no longer a game, it is now a contest ala the Roman coliseum of long ago. For years the NFL was in denial about CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) now the league is just in shock...deer in the headlights kind of shock. Not knowing what to do, just standing there, looking right into the light. Or trying to make the game safer with penalties and coaching to keep the head up when tackling. All the while ignoring the object behind the bright light is the fact that the players have out grown the ability of the protective gear to protect it's players who are the NFL.

The popularity, hype and competitive nature of pro sports leads to an Icarrus affect. Icarrus the young kid who thought he could fly to the sun with wings of wax. I'm sure you know how that ended. For pro sports to survive the governing bodies of each sports has to control the integrity of their respective sports. Competition, costs and the contest itself are the three high wires each plays on. 

The Black Sox scandal, Paul Hornung and Pete Rose and sports gambling were easy to deal with. Drug doping not so much by the fact that McGwire, Barry Bonds and others were allowed to continue to play, and not to mention Lance Armstrong. Corked bats, under-inflated balls and spit balls can also be dealt with with little disruption of the respective games.

Since most pro-sports arrived on the scene generations ago the human body has outgrown the original dimensions of the game. Case in point, basketball was a game of passing and shooting a ball to a hoop set ten feet up in the air. As players became more athletic AND taller the game changed. 

As the sure thing dunking for two points replaced the higher risk of shooting the ball, the action of the game was replaced with boredom. College basketball banned dunking (1967-1976) as taller players who were now playing didn't even have to jump or shoot to put the ball through the hoop. With competition from the ABA for exciting play the NBA adopted the three point line shot. They couldn't change the height of the basket, a 10ft high basket WAS the game....but they could reward a play that required more skill than standing underneath and dunking the ball.  Hence the game is much more exciting for fans AND the bottom line. Basketball will survive because they were responsive to growing players who were dropping the ball in instead of shooting the ball. 

Football is another question ....the sport over the past 50 years has literally exploded. Children have started playing organized tackle football at a younger and younger age. This allows for younger brains to experience more years of constant brain bashing. At the other end, football players even in high school are bigger, stronger and faster. Which is causing obvious brain injuries and fatalities, suicides, class action lawsuits and now top flight rookies retiring just as their careers are starting. Back at the other end, parents just aren't allowing their children to participate in organized tackle football programs......and those parents are former NFL players.

Those bigger players have changed the game itself. Football used to be a game of strategy to get the ball in the end zone. Today, it's a legal opportunity to ring somebody's bell.

Come back tomorrow and I'll share how football should adapt and overcome itself.









-Milt Priggee

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