In a comment, Feryl said he saw a chart about how NFL players started getting heavier and heavier circa the 1970s, linking it to the status-striving and inequality trend.
After some googling, I found this post with a series of graphs showing the evolution of body size among NFL players from 1950 to present. Most of the change has occurred since the '70s, and players on the whole tended to be similar in height and weight during the '50s and '60s, with slow decelerating growth at most. That's important for showing that this is not just some long-term trend that goes back to the very beginning of the sport, but one that began at the same time that competitiveness in general became glorified throughout society.
Some positions have gotten taller, but most show modest or no change in height. The real change has been in weight, particularly where the sumo wrestling takes place, among centers, tackles, guards, and linebackers. They appear to have gotten a full two standard deviations heavier, and even a good deal of the other positions have gotten about one standard deviation heavier. That is a huge change in less than two generations.
An offensive and defensive lineman who both weigh 200 lbs will have the same balance of forces as a pair who are both 300 lbs -- evenly matched. But somewhere along the way, some "greed is good" coach decided to put slightly heavier linemen up against the prevailing standard-weight linemen, giving his own a slight edge. Everyone else quickly caught on and imitated the strategy, the initial edge was eroded, and all were suddenly caught up in an escalating arms race toward 300-pound linemen.
Although the balance of forces is the same with a pair of 200-pound linemen and a pair of 300-pound linemen, the variance is not. Imagine a lighter pair engaged in an evenly matched tug-of-war, when someone cuts the rope and both fall backward. Now imagine two giants lumbering around when thrown off-balance. Or imagine the force of impact when the evenly matched lighter pair vs. heavier pair slam into each other.
Introducing a simple weight regulation to prevent a pointless arms
race that endangers the players will not be enacted until the social mood changes away from sanctifying competition. For now, it would only enrage the braindead fans whose sole meaning in life is to
squabble over whose squad of transplant gorillas-for-hire is more vicious.
Back when sports fans were not bloodsport junkies, and sports players were not
outsider mercenary apes, this wasn't a problem. But now that
competition for its own sake has reached sacrosanct status, who are we
to get in the way of more and more ridiculous, bombastic
And it won't be the fans who have to pay the costs of the arms race --
they're not the ones taking all those hits from 300-pound hulks.
Fortunately for the game, the players aren't exactly known for their
future orientation, and don't mind fucking themselves up for big money
today, at the cost of living as a cripple for the rest of their lives.
The coaches only want to win, and the NFL only wants advertising dollars
hence eyeballs and butts in seats. With no checks anywhere throughout
the entire football ecosystem, the whole place is headed to hell in a
Sadly, a sector that cannot police itself, and that is becoming ever more bombastic and economically parasitic on ordinary folks, means that only people from outside the pro sports ecosystem can do anything about it. Not shut it down, but dial it back by regulations to where it was in the Midcentury.
That would have sounded like a pipe dream in the '90s, when the two sports-crazy generations -- Silents and Boomers -- were dominant. But sooner rather than later, they'll either be retired, senile, or dead, and the average member of Gen X and Millennials could give a shit about the barbaric religion of gladiator worship (UFC fandom still being a very niche identity). I can't think of too many causes that would so effortlessly unite X-ers and Millennials of all political persuasions. Beating the money-changers out of the athletic temple is one of them.