The idea of policing the language in professional sports seems almost impossible. Anyone who has consistently watched the NFL knows that the fans at home can sometimes get a little too close to the action. If a microphone is at the right spot, you will hear the F-word, derogatory terms for women and a handful of other words that would make you cover the ears of a young child.
While playing professional football is not a typical job in America, the NFL is still considered a work environment. Just as your work place would not allow the use of offensive language with customers or co-workers, Roger Goodell is trying to prevent employees and fans from feeling discriminated against.
Not surprising to many people, the use of homosexual slurs will most likely be a source for penalties as well. Only banning one word would look like special treatment for one player, but grouping several types of profanities together allows the NFL to try and prevent different types of verbal attacks on employees.
The skepticism around this proposed rule is in the fact that most people don’t think it can be enforced. NFL players are creative, and I can already see some of them learning a few curse words in different languages. I can also see a few players trying to test their luck and rattling off the N-word 10 times in a row to see if the team would actually get penalized for 150 yards. Players may also start to ask about their right of free speech as well.
The debate of the usage and definition of the N-word is too complex for the NFL to find a simple solution to. It has many meanings across different generations, but the NFL is not starting a campaign to become a moral police. The league is trying to make a statement that the world is changing and players will have to adapt to new precedents. The same concept applies for homosexual players who would use certain words when interacting with each other.
Just as parents should set the standards of what is acceptable and what isn’t for their children, the NFL needs to work with the leaders in the locker rooms if this rule is to have any success. Whether players agree or disagree with the attempted changes is irrelevant. The NFL needs to have very clear rules on what is acceptable language and what isn’t. There is no room for gray areas.
When this rule is actually able to be properly enforced, fans and players will bear witness to the new standards that the NFL is hoping to achieve.