Is Football a Dying Sport?

It was recently revealed that President Barack Obama is concerned about the future of football, citing concussions as a major safety issue. Our president is not the first to express feelings of doubt for the future sport, however, as families of amateur and professional players alike have all felt the impacts of the dangerous game. For past players, it’s the growing amounts of evidence linking concussions to dementia, early onset Alzheimer’s disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease diagnosed after death that results in memory loss, depression and confusion. For current amateur players, it’s the risk that concussions pose on the developing brain, which can have adverse effects on academics and lead to depression. In recent months, the future of football has been questioned more and more, and to complicate things more, the sport’s popularity has never been higher. The NCAA and NFL rake in billions of dollars annually, and these trends don’t appear to be declining any time soon. Eventually, as the injuries and lawsuits build up the game will reach its crossroads, and it will experience significant changes at all levels, from Pop Warner up through the professional levels.

As scary as this may seem to football fans, it should offer some relief to know that this is not the first time a president has proposed changes to the game. In 1905 18 players were killed in football games, yet the sport continued to gain popularity. Like Obama, then-President Teddy Roosevelt was a fan of the game and wanted it to be preserved. But to do this, he knew that changes needed to be made to make the sport safer. What ensued was a revolution; rugby-style passes and formations were outlawed leading to more modern looking plays, and, more significantly, the forward pass was implemented. This leads me to believe that the sport will ultimately change for the better and become safer, but at the same time, it will not lose any of its popularity. It recovered 100 years ago, as did cycling and baseball, sports that were more recently damaged by the use of PED’s. Princeton

Football has already survived one revolution, whose to say it won’t survive another?

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2 Responses to Is Football a Dying Sport?

  1. spondy12 says:

    Harptown, I suffered just one concussion last spring, and I know how serious they can be, and how large an impact they can have on your cognitive abilities. It felt like I was playing catch-up the rest of the semester. I also played football for five years, and when I was first taught tackling technique, I was told to lower my head and aim it at the ball. Of course, a couple years later I was told to lead with my shoulder and keep my head to the side. I agree with you in that this change needs to be implemented at the lowest levels of youth football, because there is no way that NFL players are going to give up their habits after decades of football. I have also heard the proposal to take away helmets, or at least facemasks from players, and though I don’t think it will ever happen, I see how it could potentially prevent many head injuries.

  2. Harptown says:

    This topic hits close to home for me personally. My playing career was cut short due to concussions, and many aspects of me, for example, my memory have really payed the price. I think that football is going to have to change. However, I do not think that those changes can be made only at the professional and college levels. That being said, I think there might be a way to save football for younger players, and that may be to start teaching them new techniques now instead of later. I remember always being taught to tackle with my face mask in a guys “numbers” and to be honest even though later in my career i was taught to move my head to the side, those old habits never went away. As crazy as it may sound, removing the helmet from the game, may be one of the answers to the question of how to make football safer. WIth out the helmet, players may not go for the knock out blow every time. I know for a fact that with out a helmet, players would not be leading with their heads like we see a lot of in today’s game.

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