People say that soccer will never really catch on in the US because there’s not enough scoring. (They’re right so far.) The NBA took what was once a very physical league and made it so defenders are handcuffed in the name of offensive production. (And still the Bulls can’t score.) Now the NFL is following suit–making sure there’s nothing between a mediocre quarterback and an exciting aerial assault. Because for all the talk about how people love defense–they really don’t. They love offense. Even diehard fans feel they can take a break from the TV when they know the score will be the same when they get back.
The NFL didn’t actually have to make a new rule. It just had to enforce an old one in new ways. (You know what’s exciting? Pass plays. And what slows down receivers? Cornerbacks.) So the NFL has decided to enforce the rule that says defenders can’t initiate contact with receivers after five yards. The league started enforcing the rule more strictly in the preseason. Illegal contact penalties were up an astounding 450% and defensive holding was up 350%, according to ESPN. Ironically, it’s a rule designed for fans–to make sure there’s plenty of offense to go around. But until the league’s defenses adjust it’ll probably have fans leaving the sofa anyway since, guess what, a flag is down on the play again.