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ReFINEing a Culture

October 21, 2010

Roger Goodell has drawn a visible line in the sand for players. He has set a precedent this week and James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers is just one of many guinea-pigs.  But what were his motives for his stern punishment? Was he responding to an outcry by fans, players, or coaches? Or was he simply pushing a hidden agenda?

The harsh reality is that we live in a blood thirsty society; this is self evident by the immense popularity of caged fighting and Mixed Martial Arts ultimate fighting,  so the notion that Goodell’s actions were to appease an empathetic public is out of the question. We love to see  pain inflicted on others by others. These sentiments are exposed most blatantly in professional football with the weekly Monday Night Countdown segment on ESPN  ‘Jacked-Up’. On this two-minute segment the five biggest collisions of the week are idolized.

Comments such as that by Chicago Bears’  Safety Chris Harris who told reporters, “Nobody put a gun up to my head and said I had to play football” lead the general public to believe that players will not collectively embrace these new guidelines. Furthermore Pittsburgh Steelers’ linebacker James Harrison said he was contemplating retirement if he will be told how to play the game after he received his latest $75,000 fine for his hit Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. And don’t think for a moment that these players are acting in self interests alone by creating these horrific collisions,  defensive coordinator Rob Ryan of the Cleveland Browns told reporters after Safety T.J. Ward received a $15,000 fine for an unsportsmanlike hit, “(Ward is) hitting him the way we teach him.”

So if Roger Goodell wasn’t doing this for the players or for the coaches or for the fans, who he ‘helping’? The answer is simple…himself and the league. Lets face it, if the league was truly worried about players long term physical and mental health they would not be trying to expand the regular season to eighteen games. Its all about the bottom line. This is what I would deem ‘smoke screen public relations’. Goodell is appearing to be proactive in protecting players and setting a good example of accountability for fans, but in reality he is propagating a false sense of compassion toward players now so that by the end of the year they can see how much ‘safer’ the league is and will as a result accept the extended season.  This is hypocrisy in its most literal sense.

There are those in the media who believe the game is far to violent and must be reformed, only time will if the Cultivation Theory holds true and the media is able to influence our perception of the league’s disposition.

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