Sports Arena

Touchy-Feely Football

Once the lame game gets flagged, this is what we're left with.

By 4.4.12

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So, America is just discovering a truth about its favorite spectator sport -- football! NFL football, the professional kind, where a team's slogan might well be: "We Aim To Lame!"

Semi-documented so far is the habit of paying players bonuses for injuries inflicted on opposing players sufficient to "put them out of the game." One team is accused of such unsaintly play as to lose its coach and a lot of fine money and several more are suspect if not convicted. Surprise? A "sport" where physical contact is the order of the game actually accomplishes its aim, and thus prevents an opponent from advancing the ball toward a goal? And to observe this action people pay more on an afternoon than many people earn in a week.

There is a mass of veteran players now suing the NFL for assorted ills inflicted during their playing days. Some "veterans" are unable to tell you their names without consulting their wallets. The claim is that their welfare was not properly looked after by the NFL, as witnessed by the current rush to improve the construction of helmets and to restrain some forms of its use in play. "Unnecessary roughness" is becoming a playing crime, whereas it always was but its definition was vague if at all understood. And seldom discovered.

Fortunately, there is a solution. "Touch Football" -- the kind played by youngsters in many areas whose parents are mindful of the dangers of "tackle." Yes, "touch football," which requires only that a ball carrier be touched below the waist and usually with both hands of the "tackler." Don't tell me how much or how little you'd be willing to pay to watch grown men playing "touch," and do not explore the possibilities of what this form might lead to. Blocking and line play would have to be civilized as well.

Somebody had to forward the solution to the forms the game has adopted. But, did it have to be me?

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About the Author

Reid Collins is a former CBS and CNN news correspondent.