I love professional football. I really do. But sometimes I yearn for something like that moment when someone threw the first forward pass (Yale’s Walter Camp to Oliver Thompson in 1876). Apparently, there was no rule against forward passes, so the innovation was allowed to stand.
The game is now so rigid with orthodoxy and regulation that there is nothing that no one hasn’t thought of. That is to say, there is a rule against everything not in the standard package. So I can wait for the latter day equivalent of the unprecedented forward pass till I turn blue in the face. It’s not going to happen.
When a culture creates circumstances in which innovation is effectively banned, this is the moment when the culture turns from evolution to involution. Evolution is the movement to something new. Involution allows for refinement and elaboration, but not change.
Now this is strange because football is a metaphor for things that are shot through with innovation. It has been called war by other means. It has also been called business by other means. And of course war and business are innovating and evolving at light speed. If football wants to keep its place as a quintessentially American undertaking, it has to make space for change. I mean for crying out loud, it could end up like baseball.
So I was thinking whether there was an innovation that would give the game back its future. How about this? How about if we allow the ball carrier to make a forward pass after he has crossed the the line of scrimmage The person to whom the pass the ball, perhaps they should be able to pass it forward too.
The idea is to graft a little basketball into the game of football. I don’t know that this is a great idea. But surely something is called for. I mean otherwise it’s going to be a very long holiday season.