A Girl’s Guide to Football Tackling

14 Sep

Do you ever struggle with feelings of jealous towards “the other girl?”  The one that dazzles and shines all weekend (and still manages to look glamorous on Monday night?)  The one that gets talked about, no, gushed over while you receive mere grunts?  The one that can cause pain and agony and even some curse words but at least always elicits a passionate response?  The one that created this amazing man-trap that incorporates sports and Internet and individual gaming and points and kinda makes you want to open that Internet virus on his laptop just to see the screen of death?

I call her F-squared.  You can use your imagination on that one.
Most men refer to her, with reverence, as Fantasy Football.

I’m not an expert, although I did manage to give out good tips last year which led to a number of my coworkers getting lots and lots of Vick-points and listening to every word I said about football…for a few days.  I felt powerful.  It was great.

Mostly, I look terribly football-ignorant when around my peers (who happen to be almost all male).  But occasionally, I look terribly football-intelligent and thats when I’m around women who have never watched a game.  If you want to move from ignorant to intelligent, I can’t promise to give you any dazzling stats but I can catch you up to speed on football tackling and the new rules for 2011-2012 which are adding to a lot of the Fantasy Football water cooler and bar stool chatter.

Football 101
The football, aka, the pigskin, is the name of the ball on the field.
Kinda oblong and oval-ish.
The end zones are…the zones at the end!
The person carrying the ball (the ballcarrier) is heading towards one of those end zones.
You need him to fumble (aka, drop, lose control of) the ball.
He must be tackled.
Football plays can end in lots of ways: field goals, touchdowns, incompletions, dead-ball penalties, stepping-out-of-bounds, catches.  Most football plays end with the tackle.  This is basically a violent man-hug where the defenders pull the ballcarrier to the ground.

Tackling 101
Studies are beginning to show just how pervasive and potentially damaging tackling can be to the brain.  The new tackling rules are designed to protect ballcarriers from helmet-to-helmet full contact hits which lead to concussions.  (No idea yet whether hockey will follow suit.  Penalty boxes aren’t much of a deterrent.)

Just like in most things in life involving speed, there are two ways to tackle.  You can pause beforehand, break into a crouch (i.e. slow down, dip your shoulder, come up at the opponent) or you can go full steam ahead (i.e. tackle them smack into the ground with no stopping).

We can blame the big bad equipment manufacturers for the concussion-inducing-full-steam-ahead tackle.  Players used to be told  to lead with their shoulders and turn their heads to the side to protect their faces.  This is because they didn’t wear helmets.  (For similar reasons, most hockey coaches believe that wearing full face masks is potentially more dangerous because players are less cautious and feel falsely protected.) But with better equipment, tackling soon involved full bodies with your face planted solely in the middle of the ballcarrier’s torso.

Positive: less neck injuries than when guys turned their heads right before the collision
Negative: more crown-of-the-head concussions

In the past few years, football has become more about passing.  Tackling no longer dominates.

Positive: less tackling, less concussions
Negative: when there is tackling, it tends to involve a pack of guys which can lead to multiple injuries

Very little time in practice is spent on tackling drills. No coach wants to see injuries caused by teammates.

Positive:  less tackling, less concussions
Negative: less instruction on the right way to tackle

The fines and suspensions already in place for helmet-to-helmet tackles are now being enforced.  Players are nervous about the new rules determining whether a launch was helmet-first or not.

A violent game may be kept safe by these rules.  Hockey and boxing and other sports may become more legislated if the new football rules cut back on collisions.  But can old players learn new tricks?

And why is it still okay for a random dog at the park to launch into a head-on collision with me? And a drunk driver to turn his wheel and pin me and my bike between him and a parked car? And for guys at Fenway Park to accidentally hit me with Cracker Jacks because the sun bounced off Pedey’s bald spot and temporarily blinded them? Football players may remain concussion-cocooned but what about the rest of us without million dollar contracts?

I’m about to consult Fantasy Football.  She knows a lot about a little and she’s sitting there all smug in her MacBook Concussion-Cocoon unaware that I’m practicing my safe tackling and one of these days years, I will take her down.  And award negative points to every player with Tom Brady or Oh-So-Sinkhole on their team.



One Response to “A Girl’s Guide to Football Tackling”

  1. Meg September 16, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

    You don’t like Tom Brady? Is it because you found out he has hair plugs?

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