Football, We Have a Problem

October 16, 2017

It’s Sunday night, and like much of America, I’m watching football. Like much of America, I spent a good portion of the afternoon at least half-watching the day’s games. It’s something I used to do frequently.

The problem is, the games aren’t really any good. They’re getting worse each week. And in at least one sense, they’re becoming more and more predictable: significant injuries. Injuries are becoming more frequent and increasingly severe. In some cases, they look to be life-altering. Take this violent, hard-to-watch example from two weeks ago:

Ten days later, that injured player was back on the field, catching two touchdown passes, including the game-winner. It’s scary to consider what the long-term repercussions of that return to the field might mean. But in the short term, to our fantasy football-crazed society, it means he was one of the lucky ones. 

In the past two weeks alone, the NFL has seen three of its biggest, brightest stars in JJ Watt, Odell Beckham and Aaron Rodgers get knocked out for the year. For a star-driven league, it’s not a sustainable model, and the game might not be sustainable, either. Youth participation rates are steadily declining and TV ratings are too. 

Football has big problems on a collision course. Interest is down, while bad games, bad injuries and lifelong risks are way up.

Like much of America, I’m curious to see how this is going to play out.