Sports Arena

Too Rough? Try Touch

The NFL cracks down on concussion causers.

By 10.22.10

The NFL is coming to grips with a ghost that has haunted it since audiences became civilized.

Concussion. Inflicted more often when football helmets designed to prevent that very thing collide with 200-pound men propelling them at top speed. Part of the "problem" stems from the follow-up nature of modern sports reporting. Readers find out nowadays what really happened to large men carted off the field on stretchers. There's a story that next day, and the next -- an explanation of why so-and-so isn't in the lineup anymore.

The powers that be are about to decide that victims must be punished, that somehow the game must be "gentled." In other words, the viciousness of the "sport" must be tempered. A few veterans who have endured concussion and find they cannot accurately recall childhood events will agree. Something was "lost" in the transaction.

There is a simple solution, harkening back to the beginning days of "play." Beginning children were not required to "tackle" in the modern sense: two hands below the waist would do. It was called "touch football." Blocking and the rest of it were allowed, but a "touch" was enough. Many male progenitors could hardly wait until junior was in full regalia and ready to "hit" someone. Many more looked away when junior was slow getting up.

There was a Butte High School field that was covered with mine tailings, grass being a reluctant cover. Merely falling on it could cause damage.

But we pressed on. How many minds were damaged over the years? For every "Whizzer" White, there must have been a hundred street sweepers.

So we are about to return to a form of adult touch football. Have we lost our guts? Or have we regained our senses?

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About the Author

Reid Collins is a former CBS and CNN news correspondent.