Football is changing and the cause is named MORE.
No, I’m not talking about Sir Thomas More, because that would be weird. Let me explain by going back in time.
Nearly 60 years ago, Paul “Bear” Bryant brought his scrappy team from Texas A&M out to the West Texas town of Junction for some unorthodox training. Well, it wasn’t necessarily unorthodox; players almost died from the brutal heat and practices.
That was back in a time when men were men and we didn’t care about heat exhaustion.
Last year, the University Interscholastic rule added more rules on two-a-day practices to make them safer. It cut down on the contact in those first few “conditioning” days to help keep players safe.
Coaches universally were okay with this move, because they want to keep their charges safe. That is a paramount goal of them and their medical staffs. They wouldn’t dream of going back to the ways of the old days, because they have more knowledge about what practicing in those conditions can do.
Thus, they’re forced to become more efficient in their practices. That bleeds over into the regular season, where they go full-contact less so they can have more healthy players on the field on gameday.
More knowledge can also lead to more panic. That might have been why Texas state representative Eddie Lucio III introduced a bill last year to limit football teams to just one full-contact practice a week.
He wasn’t trying to cut down on heat-related health problems. He was trying to lessen the effects of head-based trauma.
That could be why the UIL in turn introduced more rules this year. In 2013, teams will only be able to practice at full-speed for 90 minutes per week. Most coaches I talked to this spring said they rarely went 90 minutes of full contact each week before this rule. Like I said, they have a vested interest in keeping their players healthy and ready to play on game day.
The more rules are added, though, the more the game changes. Let’s consider a few facts about football.
Fact No. 1 – Football is a violent, dangerous game.
Fact No. 2 – We do not know enough about the effects head trauma can have on young adults.
As we’ve gained more and more knowledge about what effect concussions can have on young players, concussions and head trauma have become more and more of a hot-button topic. It’s not going away, either.
The NCAA is involved in a class-action lawsuit about concussions. The NFL is bracing for a similar lawsuit from its former players.
There are solid reasons why rules in football are changing, but with those changes the game is also evolving. Take the new college rules on targeting players. South Carolina defensive end Jadaveon Clowney took the world by storm with his hit on a Michigan running back. The play was seen over and over again on ESPN SportCenter’s Top Plays. It jumped him up to the top of the 2014 draft class.
Under the new rules, that same hit would get Clowney ejected this year.
Football fans cannot like that. How many conversations have you had with longtime football fans complaining about how wimpy quarterbacks these days must be, since they’re not allowed to be breathed upon by the defense any more.
Things aren’t the same as they were back in The Bear’s time.
Except that things are as exciting as ever in the football world. For the first time since one of Bryant’s recruits roamed Kyle Field, an Aggie won the Heisman Trophy by totaling more total yards than anyone else in SEC history. The Super Bowl might have had some lighting problems, but Colin Kaepernick made things exciting until the end with his brand of run-pass excellence.
Players now are bigger, stronger, faster than they were. Coaches know more about workouts. They have more equipment to improve speed and explosion. They know more about nutrition and how it can impact play on the field.
More. More. More.
That’s created a situation where guys who used to play left tackle or defensive end are suddenly running 4.4 in the 40-yard dash and dropping back into pass coverage. The faster players go, the harder they’ll impact each other.
That’s simple physics even Sir Thomas More can understand.
What it means is that even if the game were the same as it was 60 years ago, the players are not. Our knowledge is different, too, which is why the game is evolving.
It may evolve for the better and it may devolve for the worse. In 20 years, we may look back at that Clowney hit like we do The Bear’s Junction Boys. Awed that it happened but knowing that it existed in a time long ago.
Football is changing. These new UIL rules won’t be the last. There will be more.
David Coleman is a sportswriter for the Port Arthur News. He can be emailed at email@example.com and found on Twitter at @MDavidColeman.
Football is changing and the cause is named MORE.
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Bassmaster Elites are coming back
The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
• Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
• East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
• Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
• Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on GETV.org)
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