Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and other American Football issues


I place my bets on soccer and ultimate frisbee.


Turns out the umpire hit by the angry ball had a fractured eye socket.


Many many a game was unpopular until all of a sudden enough kids play it.


I’ve watched lacross.

I’ll eat my hat if it’s ever mainstream popular. Even low-tier esports are more exciting.


Dude, lacrosse is amazing. It is also super deadly.


Full disclosure, I’ve never played or cared about lacrosse, I do however occasionally drive by my old highschool and see the newly made lacrosse… pitch? in use by the lacrosse team and the football field either empty or also in use by the lacrosse team.

I calls 'em like I see’s 'em.


I think the sports that are considered “fringe” will remain that way. Part of the issue with football is that we have a huge football culture in this country starting from a young age, so we’re putting kids in an environment where we’re teaching them that this unnecessary risk is acceptable and laudable.

MMA doesn’t have that, really. It’s fringe enough that we don’t have a pervasive culture indoctrinating people into it. It’s not “normal” or “accepted,” so I think it will remain regardless of its inherent risks. And the thing is, the risks are also way more transparent, because of course getting kicked in the head is bad for you.

The fringe will remain fringey and dangerous, the mainstream will move on to something else.


Lacrosse has actually significantly increased in popularity and prominence in both high schools and colleges/universities throughout the US. Sports trends are a thing. Has Football been the most popular for a long time? Sure. Will that ever change? Almost definitely. Y’all might want to learn of which you speak before you speak.


I have no opinion on lacrosse one way or the other, as I have never seen a match or know anything about the rules.

However, judging from the fact that it uses a lot of specialised equipment (stick, face masks, gloves, shoulder pads, rib protection, etc) I think it will never catch on big time like basketball or soccer. With those any number of people can join in by turning up to a location with, at the very minimum, a single ball and a basketball hoop. For soccer, just a ball. Even the most advanced players can only differentiate themselves with better equipment by wearing different shoes.

Based purely on the equipment needed, lacrosse seems to have a very high barrier to entry.


Yeah, it is a Native American sport co-opted by rich white kids that is now finding wider popularity. When compared to American football or hockey, the equipment is fairly minimal. I was discussing it in the context of the US, which seems to have no problem expecting schools and families to pony up for equipment.


Yeah, and this makes it feel as though the barrier to entry is intentional! It’s a sport where rich white kids can play together without fear that poor black kids can join in. Basketball for them!


Certainly no more so than American football, which is widely popular in all demographics. I lived in both poor urban communities (diverse population) and poor rural communities (almost exclusively white). In both, schools covered a large amount of the costs for equipment, there was frequent fundraising, and local businesses sponsored teams. The barrier is no higher to poor children of color than to poor white kids. The longstanding institutional racism has caused there to be disproportionately more impoverished POC, but the sport is not “designed” to be a white sport. It started (and is still played) by Native Americans with almost no equipment beyond the stick, which one can make oneself. However, the ball can reach speeds that can beak bones or even cause heart attacks (it’s happened). Thus, schools and leagues require safety measures.

I am neither saying that lacrosse will be more popular than basketball nor more accessible.


But I am saying I doubt it will become a popular sport for voluntary participation. Nobody plays NFL-style football for fun. It’s just too dangerous! Even in the Pro Bowl they only play halfheartedy. There are many reasons why football is played in schools and colleges though, mostly it being financially beneficial to the school or college, and very little notice is taken of benefits to the kids.

You know what sports people chose to play when getting together? Stuff like soccer and basketball.


I am no American football fan, but you are vastly underestimating the culture around it and the fun derived by those who participate in it. A lot of people genuinely enjoy playing it. I don’t get it, but they do.

Of course non-structured games played by people who just want to get out and play sport will include sports or modified versions of sports with less equipment. That is the difference between getting together with some friends and playing a sport in school/professionally. These are two separate issues and it is silly to conflate them.

Lacrosse is gaining in popularity in schools. Will it ever be among the top sports in the US? Who knows, but pretending that it isn’t gaining popularity at a disproportionate rate to other sports is just ignoring reality.


No, I don’t believe they are disconnected. The reason why many sports become popular is because the people watching have had direct experience with the sport in the past. If not with the exact sport with the same rules and equipment, at least a variation where they can get a feel for some of the skills and concepts.

Running is the most obvious version of this. There’s a reason why the 100m dash is one of the biggest draws in the Olympics. But the same thing happens at all levels. Most people have kicked a ball. Most people have thrown a ball and caught it. Even with boxing, many people have a pretty clear idea what’s involved when punching or being punched. Most people have tried and failed to dunk a ball. Most people have swung a stick at a ball thrown at them.

But sports with specialised equipment like lacrosse? Unless you’ve played it, do you have any conception or appreciation of what’s going on? The only way I can understand it is through the lens of either hockey or handball.

Looked at the wikipedia page for lacrosse, and I still have no idea what it looks like or feels like to play the game. Part of that is because it’s a terrible wikipedia page, but also because it is so far removed from my lived experience of all other physical activities.


It is field hockey with different sticks for the most part. In the US, it is incredibly common to meet a higher bar of understanding in game play, thanks to American football. Sports culture here is just fundamentally different. The difference between just getting together with one’s friends to play and participating in/being a fan of a given structured sport are really two vastly different aspects of our culture.


But American Football has very, very little depth in terms of game play. Fundamentally there is running with the ball and throwing and catching the ball. Everyone can understand the athletic skill required for in the participants they are watching. There is no high bar to appreciating that skill.

That there are stupidly complex rules to go along with the basic athletic skills it isn’t a consideration, and 99.9999% of people watching won’t know all those rules anyway.


Luke, if you break down lacrosse, it is that easy, too. You fling the ball, you run, you catch the ball, you run.


Yeah, sure, but I’m saying the equipment (to me) is so specialised that I have no conception of how easy or difficult it is to do that throwing and catching and scooping with that stick/net thing. My thoughts go something like:

  1. This looks like hockey but with all the dangerous action up around face level.
  2. Throwing and catching looks so easy there isn’t any down-side to passing.
  3. The field is so large, so much of the action is just moving the ball around without any danger of losing possession.
  4. The only reason to play this instead of handball is so you can hit people with sticks?

I’m not arguing that this isn’t increasing in popularity in schools and colleges in America, I just think it will never become a major mass participation activity (due to exclusive nature of the funding/equipment setup).

And I also think it will have an upper limit on how popular it will be as a spectator sport, and the players won’t become household names, and probably won’t be earning millions. It’ll be a niche sport like badminton or curling or rugby sevens which people will get into for a few days when the olympics comes around, but not pay attention to otherwise.


The only specialized equipment in lacrosse is a net on a stick. Otherwise it’s just a ball and two scoring nets. Instead of just sticks, like hockey, you have sticks with tiny nets on the end. That is the only major difference. It’s not that weird.

What’s crazy about lacrosse is that you are throwing the ball through the air. You have the ball at the end of a long stick. You can get a lot of leverage and throw it crazy crazy fast. The ball is hard. It’s very very dangerous. Someone died at RIT while I was a student there because they were playing lacrosse and the ball hit them in the chest.