A recent article in The New York Times highlights the complicated picture behind NFL suspensions, which can ruin many a fantasy-football Sunday. Often, players are suspended for legal issues such as domestic abuse or drugs. Considering the recent discussion surrounding head injuries in football, however, we may see suspensions for different reasons. As opposed to the current system of punishment through fines, suspensions deter players from doling out violent or dangerous hits during games.
Fines—as expensive as they can be—are often very minuscule in relation to an NFL player’s income. Taking players out of the line up on game day, however, could be a stronger punishment for athletes. Of course, even if this becomes the norm within the league, the transition won’t be easy. As explained by University of Minnesota sociology professor and TSP’s Doug Hartmann,
“[T]he league wants and needs to get rid of dirty plays and players, [but] they don’t want to take actions that compromise, or even appear to compromise, the actual contests themselves.”
In other words, preserving the quality of the game and the sport is important to the league, especially if they feel that viewership will drop if the games appear restrained. Whatever the future holds for suspensions and roughness in football, it’s sure to be a tight contest.