One of the things you pay us writers to do is ask questions the average Joe Dime Bag (weed is legal here in Colorado) might not be spending an awful lot of time on. Here’s one we’ve been asking ourselves lately:
Will the NFL be around when this half-century is out?
Nobody is too worried about it now because the NFL is the most popular sports league on the planet. Their players are getting brain damage and beating their spouses but this week’s Super Bowl will be one of the most watched TV shows ever. Even we’re watching it, and we don’t even own a TV.
However, with an awful lot of dead NFL players showing signs of brain trauma – trauma it is not unreasonable to think was caused by years of playing football – we are wondering if there will be enough people playing the game years from now to maintain a professional football league, not to mention the colleges that feed it.
Maybe, maybe not. I don’t think the answer is conclusive. One the one hand, as long as there is good money to be made and cheers to be heard playing football, people will probably continue to put their bodies on the line.
On the other hand, maybe enough kids stop playing the game so the talent level gets so low Americans lose interest.
We could see this happening, too. Youth and high school football participation numbers are dropping, not alarmingly dropping, but dropping, and as more and more dead NFL players turn up having brain damage, these numbers are not going to go back up. Parents will simply stop letting their kids play football and kids that are allowed will go do something else. Enough brain damaged players keep making the news and we could see numbers start decreasing fast.
You can bet college administrators and NFL staff are watching youth participation numbers, and it is no surprise the NFL is sponsoring assorted safety initiatives aimed at youth players and, equally important, the parents who decide whether or not they play.
The change will start with youth football, as leagues dry up as players go do something else. Eventually your local high school will drop its freshman team, the smaller schools dropping the sport entirely, until even the big schools will have trouble fielding a complete program.
Then the colleges will start feeling it. Not only will they stop getting the sheer numbers they were used to, the number of quality players, the top players that fill seats, will drop, too, because they are playing other sports. Eventually, the NFL will feel it, too…They may well find 1,696 players to fill out their rosters, but a good portion of them may not be any good, players who would’ve been cut during training camp in an earlier era.
Parents are right to be wary because no matter how many safe tackling clinics you hold, heads are still going to collide. It’s the way the game is played. The more a kid plays the more time their heads are going to get hit and the higher the level the harder the hits.
My own suggestion is to get rid of helmets, or at least facemasks. Without either of these things, players won’t go sticking their heads where they don’t belong and concussions may well go down.
Let me know what you think below. – gaylon