Editorial: Football exciting sport, but filled with danger

If you're ready to play some football, make sure your safety gear fits properly, it's used properly and you pay close attention to the rules related to contact.

One of our favorite sports can be dangerous, and it's attracting attention from those who want to protect us from ourselves.

Lawmakers have already instituted rules by which we must abide, even in New Mexico. The 2010 state Legislature unanimously passed Senate Bill 1, which requires coaches to sit players who exhibit signs of concussions.

Most high school and youth football coaches did not need a law to apply common sense, but the fact that Big Brother is involved reminds fans and participants that safety has to be the sport's No. 1 priority, or we risk losing it.

Conservative newspaper columnist George Will brought the latest spotlight earlier this month in his Washington Post column headlined "Football's problem with danger on the field isn't going away."

Will's opening paragraph read, "Are you ready for some football? First, however, are you ready for some autopsies?"

His column concluded:

"After 18 people died playing football in 1905, even President Theodore Roosevelt, who loved war and gore generally, flinched and forced some rules changes. Today, however, the problem is not the rules; it is the fiction that football can be fixed and still resemble the game fans relish."

Most of Will's concerns focus on the professional game, in which he points out more than 350 National Football League players weigh more than 300 pounds. And in the case of the New Orleans Saints, behemoths were paid bounty money to knock opposing players out of the games.

"Football is entertainment in which the audience is expected to delight in gladiatorial action that a growing portion of the audience knows may cause the players degenerative brain disease. Not even football fans, a tribe not known for savoring nuance, can forever block that fact from their excited brains," Will wrote.

The prognosis is not so devastating for local high school fans, where 300-pound players are about as rare as roughing-the-punter calls on eastern New Mexico and Texas Panhandle fields.

But the dangers in the professional and major college games remind us of the importance of safety at all levels.

Go team … just be careful out there.

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Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the Clovis MediaInc. editorial board, which includes Publisher Ray Sullivan and Editor David Stevens.

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