What Happens When Our Proving Ground is Stolen? A Look at the NFL’s New Rule
This season, the NFL has implemented a new rule intended to make kickoffs safer. If you’re a football fan, you are probably aware of this change. If not, here’s a quick breakdown.
Death of the Kick Return
The NFL kickoff has been, without a doubt, the most dangerous and barbaric play of the game. Eleven players from each side, most pushing 250 pounds, start at opposite ends of the field and run full force to collide with their opponent. This, of course, has been the cause of numerous catastrophic injuries, shattered bones, and serious head trauma. The new rule is intended to lower the risk of injury by pushing the kickoffs five yards closer to the opposing end zone, which should limit the number of opportunities for kickoff returns, and all of the violence that goes with them. Looking at the changes from a safety standpoint, it seems like a rational idea, right?
But wait, there’s more to this story. Isn’t there always? Although the new rule has good intentions, how will this new strategy actually play out for the league as a whole? Will there be unintended consequences? Most likely.
The game, in all reality, will be robbed of the proving ground that has been the launching pad for numerous careers. Shining performances on kickoff teams have provided aggressive, fearless players such as Rodney Harrison, London Fletcher, Bart Scott, and James Harrison with a way to secure starting lineup positions. Without this opportunity to break out of obscurity, an important element of the game has been lost.
How do the players themselves feel about the change? Former Denver Hall-of-Fame tight end, Shannon Sharpe doesn’t like it. He credits kick returns as being his breakthrough opportunity and stated that every player understands the risks involved. It may be one of the most violent plays, but it’s also one of the only ways a player can show his true ability. Other players, including Haruki Nakamura, whose season was cut short by a kickoff collision, echo Sharpe’s words.
So, with this exciting part of football now a part of history, it remains to be seen what other unintended and unwelcome consequences will follow.
Capitalism at Risk
Unfortunately, football isn’t the only place where rule changes and policies can drastically change the nature of the playing field. With one decision, football players now must look at their opportunities with an entirely different mindset. Numerous business owners and entrepreneurs can relate to this frustration as well.
When politicians change the rules that directly affect small businesses and entrepreneurs, it creates uncertainty, limits opportunities, and often puts businesses in a position where they are unable to prosper. Weighed down by regulations and all of the unintended resulting consequences, the very idea of capitalism becomes diluted.
Ideally, the government should lay the foundation for small businesses and entrepreneurs to expand and to thrive. Capitalism and a free market economy should provide a low entry barrier and an equal playing field; much like the NFL before the rules shut one opportunity sector down.
Regulation changes and big sweeping government policies cause uncertainty, increase risks to small business owners, and greatly reduce the opportunities that entrepreneurs once enjoyed. According to the most recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of new businesses less than a year old that existed in the year ending March 2010 was lower than any other year since the research began in 1994.
If we want to jumpstart American business, the answer doesn’t lie in the government “creating jobs” or turning to a form of “light socialism”. Like the NFL players, entrepreneurs are well aware of the risks and the level of commitment involved in starting a business and having it stand out from the crowd. All they need is an atmosphere conducive to free markets. Free markets work. Social safety nets and unproductive people manipulating the system simply to get a check do not.
Cutting Down on Injuries or Cutting Out Opportunities?
The NFL wanted to cut down on injuries, cut out risk, and protect the players. By doing so, they clearly reduced the level of opportunities players once enjoyed.
Businesses and entrepreneurs have experienced the same scenario, except it’s gone much further than the NFL. Government regulators who once framed their regulations on what was safest or best for the market and the economy, now do what’s best for the government.
What can we do? Entrepreneurs and small business owners can start by educating themselves. That’s how the blinders come off in any area. Another tip, next time you analyze a bill or a law, look at how it affects your individual liberty, your business, and your daily life.
Bryan Binkholder, The Financial Coach, is a registered investment advisor and motivational speaker who offers practical insights on financial topics, investment strategies, and business success. Bryan is best known for exposing the inner workings of Wall Street and bringing clarity to common investment misconceptions. Be sure to take advantage of his two most popular resources: 7 Deadly Traps of Investing and The Six Pitfalls of Retirement Planning.