Saturday, February 18, 2012

Death of football

I suspect that many people have an easier time imagining the end of the world as we know it (EOTWAWKI) than the end of football.

But Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier bring up a pretty plausible mechanism for bringing the sport to an end.

What woud the end of football look like?
Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier, Grantland, 9 February 2012
The most plausible route to the death of football starts with liability suits. Precollegiate football is already sustaining 90,000 or more concussions each year. If ex-players start winning judgments, insurance companies might cease to insure colleges and high schools against football-related lawsuits. Coaches, team physicians, and referees would become increasingly nervous about their financial exposure in our litigious society. If you are coaching a high school football team, or refereeing a game as a volunteer, it is sobering to think that you could be hit with a $2 million lawsuit at any point in time. A lot of people will see it as easier to just stay away. More and more modern parents will keep their kids out of playing football, and there tends to be a "contagion effect" with such decisions; once some parents have second thoughts, many others follow suit. We have seen such domino effects with the risks of smoking or driving without seatbelts, two unsafe practices that were common in the 1960s but are much rarer today. The end result is that the NFL's feeder system would dry up and advertisers and networks would shy away from associating with the league, owing to adverse publicity and some chance of being named as co-defendants in future lawsuits.
It is not clear, that a lack of feeders will end professional football.  Pro football will simply go further afield and recruit less skilled people.  The percentage of the population that plays baseball is much smaller than it once was within the United States.  But with good salaries, and a whole world to recruit from, players are found.  North Carolina has a hockey team, and it is fairly popular team given its relatively small market.   As best as I can tell, there are only two active players in the National Hockey League who were born in North Carolina.


Degringolade said...


There won't be a death, but the current overwrought spectacle that is American football will be a much smaller, much poorer reflection in the future.

My youngest won't like it, as power tackles/nose guards are unique to the sport, but it will be alive through the end of his playing days, so I am not too worried about it.

russell1200 said...

Even with more young women particapting in sports, overall sports participation is down.

Anecdotal evidense indicates to me that, outside of areas with a growing population -such as where I live, band participation is also struggling.

Humble wife said...

I had no idea that there were so many concussions!

As to women participating it makes sense why less men want to. I can't imagine why a boy would want to wrestle a girl(competitively) as it is a loose loose situation.

Feminism has made great strides in destroying the beauty that differentiates the genders.


russell1200 said...


I recall way back in the early 1980s when I was in high school, there were a couple of gals who were on high school wrestling teams- I think in California- They were undefeated because nobody would wrestle them.

As I recall, the discussion between my North Carolina wrestling teamates was that they would only be too happy to wrestle the young ladies.

A different sort of problem, and not very gentlemanly I am afraid. LOL.

I believe that typically women have about 60% of the musculature of men. While a woman who wanted to wrestle, would be well above average, so are most wrestlers. Wrestlers, and (where they have it) swimmers are probably the high school athletes in the best shape overall.

I see your point, put I think that that water is so far under the bridge that it has already reached the ocean.