Bruce Arians’ latest defense of football was as tone-deaf as his last – For The Win
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Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is not afraid to speak his mind when it comes to the concussion issue in football. Weeks after calling parents who did not want their kids playing football “fools,” Arians doubled down on his defense of the sport at a coaches clinic in Arizona:
“We feel like this is our sport. It’s being attacked, and we got to stop it at the grass roots,” Arians said. “It’s the best game that’s ever been [expletive] invented, and we got to make sure that moms get the message; because that’s who’s afraid of our game right now. It’s not dads, it’s moms.”
Somehow, Arians actually managed to formulate a more flawed argument than his “girl’s youth soccer is more dangerous than youth football” rant in March. It’s not the moms these football saviors need to convince — it’s the science and doctors that continue to point to the sport being overly dangerous. And I’m not sure “It’s the best game that’s ever been [expletive] invented” is the message you need to get across. That doesn’t do a good job of quelling the safety concerns.
These latest comments are so ridiculous, it’s almost as if Arians’ goal was satire. Football isn’t dangerous, it’s awesome is the basic gist of his argument. Tack on the the appeal to masculinity — Only women are against the sport; you’re not a woman, are you? — and you have all the elements of a bro’s defense of football.
There’s no shortage of male athletes who have said they would not want their kids to step on a football field, including LeBron James, Adrian Peterson and Kurt Warner. It’s not a gender issue; it’s a science issue. And the science says kids should not be playing football, no matter how great it may be.
To Arians’ credit, he did admit that coaches could make the game safer, but even that sentiment is problematic:
“Our job is to make sure the game is safe, at all levels,” Arians said. “The head really has no business being in the game. There’s a lot of different teachers, but when I was taught how to tackle, and block, it was on a two-man sled, and you did it with your shoulder pads. That’s still the best way to do it. There’s really isn’t any place for your face in the game. I would beg all of you to continue to learn more about what they’re now calling rugby style tackling. I thought it was [expletive] football myself.”
What Arians, and the NFL, either does not get or just flat out ignores is that poor tackling is not the sole cause of concussions. Shoring up the fundamentals may eliminate some of the head injuries, but the game will remain dangerous. There are collisions on the line of scrimmage on every snap that are just as dangerous as a defensive back leading with the crown of his helmet. And those collisions on the line are a fundamental part of the game.
So Arians and the NFL can claim that changes are being made to make the game safer, but the truth is football is inherently dangerous. So parents — moms AND dads — are going to continue to hold their kids out of the sport until the day science says football is safe again. And, sadly, that day will never come.