Back in 2009, fellow NPIer Josh asked, “What Common Human Behavior Will be Viewed as Mistaken in 100 Years?” He used that question to talk about vegetarianism, but the question popped into my head recently regarding football. It is starting to seem inevitable to me that football—a sport everyone here at NPI loves—will be seen as barbaric and immoral in a generation or two. The more science exposes about the long-term effects of concussions and subconcussive impacts, the more it seems that there is simply no safe way to play football.
Right now, however, football’s popularity seems invulnerable. The highest rated show on TV last year was Sunday Night Football; it was so highly rated that it, combined with the Super Bowl, kept NBC—NBC!—from finishing last among the four major networks this season. This year’s BCS National Championship was watched by 24.2 million viewers, and that was the lowest rated championship of the BCS era. In a recent piece on football’s popularity for Grantland, Chuck Klosterman pointed out that 25 million people watched the NFL Draft, “a statistic that grows crazier the longer you dwell upon its magnitude.” And, if anything, the football’s popularity seems poised to grow as an influx of popular young stars like Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Tim Tebow enters the league.
In other words, football’s decline seems both inevitable and impossible. Continue reading