Is football on its deathbed?
John Kass of the Chicago Tribune SAYS the answer to the question above is yes:
Football is dead in America.
Even through all the chatter and cheerleading and media hype, football as an American cultural institution lies in final spasm. It’s as dead as the Marlboro Man.
And if the professional game survives at all, it will be relegated to the pile of trash sports, like mixed martial arts or whatever is done in third-rate arenas with monster trucks and mud. It won’t be as American as apple pie. Instead, football will become the province of people with face tattoos.
Lawyers are circling football now. For years they’ve had their wings locked, cruising overhead, but lately they’ve swooped in low, landing and hopping over to take chunks out of the great billion-dollar beast.
But it’s not the lawyers who are the death of football. Blaming lawyers misses the point. Like their counterparts in nature, lawyers are merely the cleanup crew. What finishes football are the parents of future football players.
The NFL desperately needs American parents. Not as fans, but as suppliers of young flesh.
The NFL needs parents to send their little boys into the football feeder system. And without that supply of meat for the NFL grinder — first youth teams, then high school and college — there can be no professional football.
And yet every day, more American parents decide they’re finished with football. Why? Because parents can no longer avoid the fact that football scrambles the human brain.
In cultural terms, parents who send their 10-year-olds to play football might as well hold up signs saying they’d like to give their children cigarettes and whiskey…
Future historians may explain all this in terms of cultural change, of more information about concussions, spinal cord injuries, paralysis and brain damage, and another football killer, taxpayer liability.
Fans have been led to pretend that the violence is merely ancillary. But to say that violence isn’t at the heart of football is a lie. Remove the violence, and you remove what is great about the game, what is awe-inspiring and guilt-inspiring at the same time.
All sports can be dangerous. They involve physical and spiritual risk. But football is different from other team sports. It is designed to slam body against body, and often, head slams against head. There is no way to alter this fact, no way to spin it.
So if you’re wondering about the future of football during the NFL draft, try this experiment: Ask the parents of a little boy about tackle football, about concussions, and look into their eyes when they speak.