New NFL rule sparks sexist controversy


Let me begin this by sharing with you a comment by a reader from another site regarding the new NFL rule concerning hits. This is what he posted:

Frank says:

“As concerns the new rules concerning hits, I think the league has gone too far. I agree with Matt Millen though he could not say what was on his mind because it wouldn.t be politcally correct. People are influencing the game who don’t know what the game intaills (women) and the game will eventually be destroyed. Everything seems to be changed when ever they give their imput concerning what men do or have. Just as in the case of locker rooms with the Ines case. If thing are equal men should be allowed in the womens locker room as well. or no one should be allowed in any locker room.”

Now I usually don’t even waste time or energy on such ignorance as exhibited by this person, but his comment disturbed me, even more than it offended me, in large part because this fellow was far from being alone in his ludicrous assumption that somehow, women are behind the NFL’s new rule regarding unnecessary roughness.

And to further state that women don’t know what the game entails and that we are destroying the game, only shows that this guy’s disdain for women has clearly clouded his judgment, along with that of all who agree with his theory. For him or anyone else to think that women could possibly influence the decisions of the NFL–a fiercely male-dominated industry–is about as ridiculous a notion as any I’ve ever heard.

As football fans, we can all appreciate a good, hard-hitting game. After all, those “train wrecks” are what we look for on replay reels week after week. And as a woman, I do understand that football is a violent game in which players are not only trained to hit as hard as they can, but they are expected to do it or look for another line of work. I accept that because football has been around a lot longer than I have.

When I came to know anything about it, it was all about the toughest of the tough exerting their will in order to win–and the rules are quite a bit more relaxed now than they were back then. It was my personal choice to become a fan of something those less-enthusiastic than I have often termed “barbaric” and all that it entails. Football has never been a sport for the squirmish (male or female) and it never will be.

These new rules are being put in place to protect the lives of the players, not to pacify some phantom group of women somewhere who want to turn football into a “wimpy” sport. By looking out for its players upon implementing these rules, the NFL is protecting the integrity of the game by showing that it will not condone malicious intent aimed against any of its players.

For those who prefer to dredge up what football used to be like in terms of physicality and toughness, I’d suggest examining the health of a player from that era to see how his health faired after his NFL career was over. I’d be willing to bet that the majority of those players would’ve preferred to do things differently had they known then what they know now. It’s just like with anything else, with the passage of time comes knowledge. Those long-term football-related injuries of the game’s pioneers are what has prompted the league to take the actions it has up to this point.

I’d be less than honest if I said I’m not awed by the mere sight and sound of those hard hits when I see them on highlights after the game. Heck–I love ‘em! It wouldn’t be football if you didn’t have those. In fact, I’ll go a little further in saying I don’t think it’s fair to the players to train them to play a certain way then punish them for doing so. On that order, I can understand all the discontent surrounding this newest and other such rules aimed at protecting players. What protects some limits others.

Still and all, I would hope that no one in his or her right mind would wish a life-threatening or life-altering injury on anyone just to win a game. It should never be that serious. Now I want you to hear me loud and clear when I say that I’m just as passionate about the game of football as my husband, my son, and my brothers are and I have been so my whole life.

I’m all for hard hitting, smash-mouth style of play on the field. But don’t accuse me of trying to destroy the game I love so dearly because I care more about what happens to the players (no matter who they play for) than I do about being able to have bragging rights. Winning is great, but human life is sacred. Some men somewhere have had to feel the same way or else the rules would’ve never changed.


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3 Responses to “New NFL rule sparks sexist controversy”

  1. brad says:

    Anyone who agrees with this rule is a giant pussy! boo hoo someone got hurt, let their ten million fix them up. Nothing is going to change, or this rule will be overturned. Man up, this isnt a womens sport.

  2. sucka99 says:

    I kind of agree with Millen’s point about women driving the changes but not for his reasons – but because of an argument I heard the other day: money.

    The NFL business model pre-market crash was

    1. add a new franchise
    2. get some city to pay for a new arena with favorable lease terms
    3. raise ticket prices/offer high end seats at stadiums and court corporate sponsorship and clients
    4. expand overseas
    5. get more from TV/digital media

    Well 1-4 are pretty much dead now, and they’re about tapped out with 5 and the only way they can expand that significantly is by adding 2 extra games – hence the 18 game season.

    But there’s still one untapped domestic market where the NFL can try to conquer – and that’s women! If they can get more women as ticket-paying sponsorship-buying fans like men are they can grow the business in the way that empty luxury boxes can’t. Then they can justify higher TV rates (because of better demographics for advertisers) which is their last source of growing revenue.

    Hence them coming down hard on Big Ben for his indiscretions, the increased suspensions for players who get in trouble (as women are likely less forgiving than men), and the reduction of the violence.

    The big question, tho, is if they alienate their core fanbase, will it kill the golden goose?

    • Thank you for breaking this down–sensibly. If the person who prompted me to write my article had read this, then he might have understood what Millen was actually saying. But I’ve noticed that ignorance is bliss and foolishness abound. I appreciate you for laying the facts out one by one so that those who wish to know the whole story can.