Seeing this seasons NRL roar into life without its signature defensive move the shoulder charge bought to mind the now age old (age old being the last 40 years) debate, “is today’s generation just a pack of slick haired money hungry pansies compared to the hardened men of past era’s”, eras where medical research into head trauma didn’t exist it’s worth noting or as we evolving to a more sensible and mature civilisation which seeks to protect its athlete’s from undue risk?
Are we going soft by constantly improving the safety elements of today’s sports at the expense of the entertaining barbarianism or is this continued drive to remove risk from sporting pursuits all just part of the natural human evolutionary process akin to the change from death sports to blood sports to contact sports?
Will future generation’s looks back at spear tackles, shoulder charges and rucking like we do at gladiator battles, jousting, ancient wrestling and other forms of mortal combat which used to pass as sport but are now confined to filling up the Sunday morning hangover busting slot on the history channel?
All Major Sports have seen massive improvements in regards to participant safety and this rate of change has accelerated with modern science. Ice Hockey players used to charge around with no helmets, limited padding and scant regard for personal safety, NFL players similarly have transformed their equipment to limit damage, Rugby has replaced the simple self-regulating man on man tussle we call a ruck with a myriad of confusing, often subjectively enforced rules targeted at improving the flow of the game and removing dangerous elements of ruck play for the sake of participants health and safety.
Cyclists wear helmets, sailor’s life jackets, shooters safety glasses. Many fringe sports such as bull rush and scrag have been banned from school yards, boxing has been in demise and the subject of frenzied medical arguments regarding head injuries and the New Zealand Ice Hockey leagues doesn’t even allow fighting which is standard in the NHL.
We have fundamentally chosen safety as a high priority in sport at the expense of pureness, danger, competition and risk all of which ultimately has some impact on entertainment value of the sports in question, especially for those of us caught in the phase change where our sports introduce something new to us sparking radical debate amongst fans, coaches and players.
I support rucking, shoulder charges and self-choice on the helmet issue, but at the same time do not advocate a return to gladiatorial pursuits as a form of sporting entertainment.
I have evolved from the ancient Romans to see their sports and entertainment as brutal and unacceptable in our world will our future generations think the same of us with our Boxing, UFC, Rugby, other contact sports and general high risk sporting activities.
Our safety features are only minor changes to lower the risk of inherently risky and dangerous sports which could cause injury and even death in some cases, akin to giving a gladiator armour or adding the tap out as opposed to fight to the death in ancient wrestling we haven’t fundamentally removed the physicality and risk of our sports is this just simply a matter of time we will soon evolve to all dangerous sport being virtual played on iPhones and Xboxes?
It sure seems we are heading in the right direction, being back rucking the dam shoulder charge you pansies!
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