Posts Tagged ‘NFL’

Leading Issues in the News: Protests in Sports

Washington Redskins Kneel During the National Anthem

By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Washington Redskins National Anthem Kneeling) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

At the beginning of the 2016 NFL preseason, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick ignited a firestorm of controversy by sitting down during the national anthem. He explained his reason for sitting as follows, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.” In the 49ers final preseason game, Kaepernick kneeled during the anthem instead of sitting as a way to show more respect to military members while still protesting the anthem. Throughout the 2016 season, several NFL players joined Kaepernick in “taking a knee” during the anthem.

The protests became more widespread at the start of the 2017 season after President Donald Trump said NFL owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. In the games following Trump’s comments, more than 200 players kneeled while other teams linked arms in solidarity.

The protests are not confined to just the NFL. Soccer players and WNBA players have protested by kneeling or by staying in the locker room during the national anthem. Major league baseball player Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland Athletics knelt during the anthem, while NHL player J.T. Brown of the Tampa Bay Lightning raised his fist while standing on the bench during the national anthem.

Although the protests have generated controversy, they have also started conversations over racial discrimination, police brutality and freedom of expression.

This is not the first time athletes have used the world of sports to make a stand over social issues.

Protest at the 1968 Summer Olympics

Extending gloved hands skyward in racial protest, U.S. athletes Tommie Smith, center, and John Carlos stare downward during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner after Smith received the gold and Carlos the bronze for the 200 meter run at the Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City on Oct. 16, 1968. Australian silver medalist Peter Norman is at left. (AP Photo) (Credit: Public Domain)

At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised a fist while the national anthem played during their medal ceremony. The gesture was viewed as a “Black Power” salute and became front page news around the globe. The athletes stated they were there to express African-American strength and unity, protest black poverty, and remember victims of lynching.

On October 17, 1968, the International Olympic Committee convened and determined that Smith and Carlos were to be stripped of their medals for violating the fundamental principles of the Olympic spirit.

Forty-nine years later, that moment at the Olympics continues to reverberate through sports.

Learn more about the current national anthem protests as well as the historical context by visiting SIRS Issues Researcher and eLibrary. Not a customer? Free trials are available.

Leading Issues in the News: Concussions in Sports

“I demand that football change its rules or be abolished. Brutality and foul play should receive the same summary punishment given to a man who cheats at cards! Change the game or forsake it!”

–President Theodore Roosevelt, after the Chicago Tribune reported that 18 college football players had died and 159 were seriously injured during the 1905 season

The escalating violence and the number of injuries and deaths in the early history of American football led to rule changes and equipment improvements aimed at making the game safer, both at the collegiate and professional levels. However, football players—as well as athletes in other sports—continue to put themselves at risk of injury every time they participate in a practice or game.

In the past couple decades the risks associated with repetitive head injuries have come to the forefront. Mike Webster, a Hall of Famer who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1974 to 1990, became the first former NFL player to be diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)–a progressive degenerative brain disease–after his death at the age of 50 in 2002. The release in 2015 of the movie “Concussion”, which chronicled the work of forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu, who performed autopsies on former NFL players, put the public spotlight directly on this serious issue.

A recent addition to SIRS Issues Researcher’s list of over 340 Leading Issues—Concussions in Sports—is one that any student who participates in sports—as an athlete and/or fan—can relate to. It provides young researchers with an in-depth look at this problem that affects all athletes—from those participating in youth leagues to the professional athlete. The Concussions in Sports Timeline provides a history of the issue and a list of key events that have had an impact on past and current players, and highlights efforts to improve player safety and continue research on concussions and their effects.


Screen cap from SIRS Issues Researcher

Screen cap from SIRS Issues Researcher


This Day in History: Miami Dolphins Finish 1972 NFL Season Undefeated

On December 16, 1972, the Miami Dolphins tallied a 16-0 victory over the Baltimore Colts, completing the first undefeated 14-0 regular season record in the history of the NFL. They are the only team in NFL history to finish a season unbeaten and untied, and then go on to capture a Super Bowl victory that made them world champions, ending with a perfect 17-0 overall record. Over 40 years later, the Dolphins remain the only NFL team to complete an entire season undefeated and untied from the opening game through the Super Bowl (or the NFL championship game).

Six players from the ’72 Dolphins team have since been enshrined in Pro Football’s Hall of Fame: Nick Buoniconti (linebacker), Larry Csonka (fullback), Bob Griese (quarterback), Jim Langer (center), Larry Little (guard), and Paul Warfield (wide receiver), along with head coach Don Shula. It had not become common practice for Super Bowl champions to be invited to the White House until after 1980, so the 1972 Dolphins never got their White House visit. On August 20, 2013, 40 years after their historic perfect season, President Obama welcomed the team to the White House to celebrate and recognize their accomplishment.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a ceremony honoring the 1972 Super Bowl Champion Miami Dolphins in the East Room of the White House, Aug. 20, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a ceremony honoring the 1972 Super Bowl Champion Miami Dolphins in the East Room of the White House, Aug. 20, 2013.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) [public domain]

Prior to the 1972 Dolphins, the only other team to ever complete the regular season undefeated and untied is the Chicago Bears, who accomplished the feat in both 1934 and 1942. However, both of those Bears teams lost in the NFL Championship Game. In 1985, the Chicago Bears were 12-0 when they visited Miami in a nationally televised Monday night showdown. Members of the undefeated 1972 team were in attendance and watched the Dolphins claim a 38-24 upset victory. The Bears went on to an 18-1 season, capped by winning the Super Bowl, but the Dolphins’ claim on the only perfect season was still intact.

The most recent team to challenge the Dolphins’ exclusive hold on an undefeated season was the 2007 New England Patriots, who finished the regular season with a 16-0 mark. (The Patriots were able to compile a better regular season record than the 1972 Dolphins because the NFL lengthened the regular season schedule from 14 to 16 games in 1978.) New England added two playoff wins and entered Super Bowl XLII undefeated (18-0), but the dream of a perfect season fell short as they were defeated 17-14 by the New York Giants.

This season, with three games left in the regular season, the Carolina Panthers remain undefeated at 13-0. Stay tuned to find out if they can duplicate the perfection achieved by the 1972 Miami Dolphins team.

eLibrary has over 100 Research Topic pages related to the NFL and its teams, coaches, players and commissioners. To view a few of them related to this post, check out the links below:

Chicago Bears

Don Shula

Miami Dolphins

National Football League

New England Patriots

Super Bowl

10 Things About the Super Bowl

Super Bowl XLIX (49) will take place on February 1, 2015 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Super Bowl Sunday has become almost like a national holiday in the U.S.–celebrated by football fans and non-fans alike. Whether you tune in to actually watch the game, see the commercials, be entertained by the half-time show, are one of the 70,000 people to attend in person (at an average 2015 ticket price of $4,675.99), or just use it as an excuse to have a party, it is undeniably one of the biggest events of the year.

Lombardi Super Bowl Trophy

“Lombardi Super Bowl Trophy”
by Erik Drost on Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0

Here are a few randomly-compiled facts about the big game:

1. The first Super Bowl was played at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on January 15, 1967, and was called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game. It matched the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League and the Kansas City Chiefs of the American Football League, with the Packers winning 35-10. It was the only Super Bowl that was not a sellout. The “Super Bowl” name was not adopted until 1969.

2. The Super Bowl is the world’s most viewed single day sporting event. According to results from The Nielsen Company, the broadcast of Super Bowl XLVIII (2014) had an average audience of 111.5 million viewers, which surpassed the previous year’s Super Bowl, and became the most watched television program of all time.

3. The winner of the game is awarded the Lombardi Trophy, named in honor of legendary Green Bay Packers Coach Vince Lombardi, who won the first two Super Bowls. The trophy is made entirely of sterling silver by Tiffany & Co., takes about four months and 72 man-hours to produce, and costs $12,500. Two trophies are brought to each Super Bowl game, just in case one gets damaged or destroyed as the winning team celebrates.

4. No NFL team has ever played the Super Bowl on its own home field, and no Super Bowl game has ever gone into overtime play

5. Linebacker Chuck Howley of the Dallas Cowboys was the first defensive player and only member of a losing team to ever win the MVP trophy in Super Bowl V (1971). The Baltimore Colts won 16-13 on a last-second field goal, but Dallas committed ten penalties, and Baltimore turned the ball over an incredible seven times. The game is often referred to as the “Blunder Bowl.”

6. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Super Bowl Sunday is the second highest day of food consumption in the U.S., after Thanksgiving. And it’s mostly junk food–Estimates for game day 2014 were 104.2 million pounds of avocados and 8.2 million pounds of tortilla chips for guacamole, 11.2 million pounds of potato chips, 1.25 billion chicken wings, and 325 million gallons of beer.

7. The average rate for a 30-second commercial spot during the big game has increased 75% over the past decade and totaled $4.2 million in 2014, according to Kantar Media. Advertising time for this year’s game will be a new record–roughly $4.5 million for 30 seconds. Anheuser-Busch has spent more on Super Bowl advertising than any other marketer over the past five years.

8. Three teams have reached the Super Bowl 8 times–the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots. The Steelers have the most wins, with 6. Four of the NFL’s 32 active teams have never appeared in a Super Bowl–the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars.

9. Only three men–Tom Flores (played for Kansas City Chiefs/coached Oakland Raiders), Tony Dungy (played for Pittsburgh Steelers/coached Indianapolis Colts) and Mike Ditka (played for Dallas Cowboys/coached Chicago Bears)–have won Super Bowl rings as both a player and head coach.

10. The NFL has used a Roman numeral to denote every title game since Super Bowl V. Instead of using a sole “L” for the 50th Super Bowl logo, the 2016 NFL championship will be known as Super Bowl 50. Roman numerals will return for the 2017 game.

Enjoy the game!