Thursday, November 09, 2017

Bob Costas on the future of football: 'This game destroys people's brains'

Bob Costas on the future of football: 'This game destroys people's brains'

"He said the decline of football, which was once 'a cash machine,' is the most significant story in American sports."

The NFL and college football have been so monstrously popular for so long that it strains our credulity to contemplate the decline of the game, yet Costas may be right. The popularity of individual sports is cyclical:
  • When I was a kid boxing was a really big deal, and we knew the history and lore of the great heavyweights. Now I can't tell you who the current heavyweight champion is.
  • Both golf and tennis are looking at declining participation.
  • There was a time when baseball dominated the talk and the dreams of every red-blooded American boy. Now it falls far behind football, video games and basketball.
Football could head in the same direction if the high sheriffs of the game can't find a way to play it safely without ruining the fun of it. The key is that the game may lose the young players. As Costas says, "If I had an athletically gifted 12- or 13-year-old son, I would not let him play football.” How long will it be before schools at all levels consider dropping the game to protect their students from harm and their finances from lawsuits?

Football will probably not stop being America's favorite game for many decades because these changes tend to be evolutionary, not revolutionary, but the handwriting seems to be on the wall.

And that kinda makes me sad. I understand the concerns, and I'm not usually one of those people who thinks we have to keep doing things the old way, but I've loved the traditions of autumn as much as anyone and I sorta wish everything would just stay about the same.

1 comment:

  1. 1.I wouldn't say that it's exploded into the mainstream yet, but soccer is also on a large upswing with Major League Soccer attendance and English Premier League television games both drawing large number of younger viewers. And, contrary to the possible stereotypes, many of these viewers are younger white urbans and suburbanites, and not just Latinos.

    2.Going back to the 1940s and 1950s and declining by the 1970s, horse racing and bowling were also very big. Not participatory bowling, but bowling as a spectator sport. Some of the first television programs were championship bowling tournaments and one of the first high priced television programs that turned out to be a disaster was "Jackpot Bowling with Milton Berle."
    Milton Berle explained on air his reason for doing the show: "I'm doing this for pin money."

    3.I don't know that golf is declining so much as regressing to its natural mean now that Tiger Woods is no longer playing.