The American football industry is on its deathbed

By By John Kass

Chicago Tribune (MCT)

Published: Friday, April 26 2013 3:00 p.m. MDT

“It never would have occurred to me. Now, given what I know about the concussion issue — first as a lawyer who has litigation, but also as someone who reads the papers — for me as a parent, I don’t think I would ever let my kids set foot on a football field. Ever.”

Football may hang on for a few years, hang on desperately like a cat dying under a backyard deck, hissing as it goes. There are billions of dollars at stake, feeding owners, players, agents, advertisers, journalists, and most importantly, bookies. The NFL is about gambling.

The game is not just a contact sport — it’s a high-impact collision sport. It is about exploding into your opponent, refusing to break, while breaking others to your will and knocking them senseless.

For young players on the field and old spectators remembering, there is still joy in it. But expressing that joy has become culturally taboo.

Fans have been led to pretend that the violence is merely ancillary. But to say that violence isn’t at the heart of football is a lie. Remove the violence, and you remove what is great about the game, what is awe-inspiring and guilt-inspiring at the same time.

All sports can be dangerous. They involve physical and spiritual risk. But football is different from other team sports. It is designed to slam body against body, and often, head slams against head. There is no way to alter this fact, no way to spin it.

So if you’re wondering about the future of football during the NFL draft, try this experiment: Ask the parents of a little boy about tackle football, about concussions, and look into their eyes when they speak.

John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Readers may send him email at jskass@tribune.com.

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