The end of football

Via Daring Fireball, a Grantland article from a couple of months ago where a pair of economists game theory the end of the NFL. Feels spot-on to me:

This slow death march could easily take 10 to 15 years. Imagine the timeline. A couple more college players — or worse, high schoolers — commit suicide with autopsies showing CTE. A jury makes a huge award of $20 million to a family. A class-action suit shapes up with real legs, the NFL keeps changing its rules, but it turns out that less than concussion levels of constant head contact still produce CTE. Technological solutions (new helmets, pads) are tried and they fail to solve the problem. Soon high schools decide it isn’t worth it. The Ivy League quits football, then California shuts down its participation, busting up the Pac-12. Then the Big Ten calls it quits, followed by the East Coast schools. Now it’s mainly a regional sport in the southeast and Texas/Oklahoma. The socioeconomic picture of a football player becomes more homogeneous: poor, weak home life, poorly educated. Ford and Chevy pull their advertising, as does IBM and eventually the beer companies.

Read the whole thing, it’s compelling and chilling.

I personally have been growing increasingly uncomfortable with my own consumption of football. These guys are out there literally killing themselves. That their actual deaths happen N years after they’re done playing is becoming impossible for me to ignore. I wouldn’t watch a gladiator match, and the only difference is the timescale.

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  1. bananacasts said: I share the author’s daydream, but it’s a daydream. Our legislators and leaders across all levels of government have a hard time dealing with change, so they heap on what they can to avoid it. Look at what we did to “save Detroit” for Pete’s sake.
  2. froggeek said: I’m thinking along the exact same lines. Boxing took roughly 20 years to lose relevance - football will probably take at least that long. It’s not going to be an easy thing - but I’m weaning myself off of it.
  3. runonsentencesaboutemotions said: I think John’s assessment of the typical fan watching because of the big hits are spot on as well. It’s popular *because* of the violence.
  4. scholvin posted this