In this world of ever-increasing regulation, the sports industry has received a heavy pressure from outside sources in favor of the installment of policies meant to increase player safety.
With this evolution has come the degradation of the spirit of sports without the sort of raw emotion and lack of restraint that comes with athletic competition. A player’s knowledge to have to restrain an urge produces a sort of anxiety, and the more regulations that exist, the less capable players are of taking the game into their own hands.
Penalties drastically alter the course of games, and players now even get thrown out for “targeting” defenseless receivers.
While there may be some sense of malice that comes with big hits in a minority of cases, the defensive players are doing their job by making the play and potentially generating a beneficial outcome for their own team.
Big hits are a result of mistakes made by the offense, whether the quarterback’s read or the receiver’s route, and mistakes should be seen as a lesson never to be repeated. The defensive team should not be criticized for exerting their fullest potential to benefit their own team, and this constantly interrupted game of football, cut short by penalties, fouls and announcements, makes people desire some spectacle free from hindrance. This realization can be met through the game of Calcio Fiorentino.
Calcio Fiorentino is hardcore. Originating from 16th century Italy, the game has no visible rules to speak of except getting a ball to the other teams corner and throwing it into a net. The game combines football, soccer, rugby and ultimate fighting.
The players start out aligned across from each other, and the round usually starts with some light sparring. However after certain players try to make advances in an attempt to score, the physicality increases exponentially.
Imagine 27 men versus 27 other men in an ultimate fighting cage match, with almost nothing off limits apart from major injuries. Head butting, punching, elbowing and choking are allowed in the modern version of the game, with the only real regulations against sucker punches and kicks to the head.
This may seem like some sort of savagery or unnecessary violence, but each player understands the risk and makes his or her own decision to enter the contest.
The game is all for a free dinner for the winning team, and the players are not compensated in any other way. Their utter love for tradition and desire to be next to their friends and teammates in raw sport serves as enough motivation to risk injury, and this sport seems one of very few remaining whose purpose extends past monetary reward.
Although modern society vehemently insists on regulation and managing risk, I believe that this sport of Calcio Fiorentino should remain a bastion of raw and violent competition, that, while controlled, allows men to exercise their animalistic inclinations.
While I do not want to purport the idea of making the NFL like this or supporting violent behavior, I do believe the underlying ideology of the matter remains true. While we must protect people from harm, it is important to allow for room for unrestrained actions, as to not trap ourselves in a blanket of safety.
I will leave you with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt that rings very true.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”