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Posted On Friday, 07 October 2022 00:00 Written by

Ya gotta knock somebody down.” I could hear Head Coach Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers yell from the sidelines as I refereed games during my 31-year career as an NFL referee when I officiated games in Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Lombardi, one of ‘The Seven Blocks of Granite’ of Fordham University’s 1930s football team, was shouting to encourage his players that they must block and tackle during the game if they want to win. Lombardi’s method of blocking and tackling was solely with their shoulders and body – never with their helmets or head. Of course, in those days players helmets were of made of leather.

Today’s NFL players are using Riddell helmets made of plastic as are college and high school players. That often gives the players a false sense of safety which they believe allows them protection from injuryBlocking and tackling with the crown of the helmet is an unsportsmanlike conduct foul (15-yard penalty) and can often be called “targeting” leading to disqualification. Further, and more importantly, that type of contact can lead to cervical and spinal injuries with life-threatening results. The use of the helmet for tackling and blocking is highly discouraged at all levels of football.

Football is not the only sport that lends itself to aggressive play. Soccer, which is more frequently called football elsewhere, is a popular sport in the U.S. as well and is considered a contact sport.

These players are not wearing football-type uniforms yet make physical-type contact while the ball is in play. Further, soccer players often use their heads as use of their hands while the ball is in-play is illegal. The ball is often traveling some 30 plus MPH when contacting a player’s head. No foul is called for use of the head.

Basketball must be labelled a contact sport as well. I heard a former NBA and now Hall-of-Fame player who is a current NBA announcer say on television, “Ya gotta knock somebody down.” No, it was not Coach Lombardi. But he was sincere in his commentary. Do fans want to see that type of play in basketball? Evidently, they do as the NBA style is fast-growing and adopted by colleges and high schools.

Violent events are displayed by television programs that fill a large majority of our days. Do we want to accept this as normal or acceptable behavior?

Will you do all you can to avoid and even prevent violence in your world?

Posted On Friday, 07 October 2022 00:00 Written by
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