According to a new Bloomberg Politics poll, 50% of Americans would not let their son play organized football. Additionally, only 17% of Americans believe the sport, which now enjoys unparalleled popularity and enormous financial success at the college and pro level, will grow in popularity over the next 20 years.
These are grim numbers for a sport that’s seeing an onslaught of negative attention, including a parade of National Football League players accused of abusing their wives or children; a team name so offensive that some news organizations refuse to print it; and, perhaps most troubling to parents, the growing body of evidence that repeated blows to the head can cause long-lasting brain damage. The sport’s troubles have caught the attention of Congress, whose members hauled a league official to Washington for a Senate hearing earlier this month. Individual lawmakers have proposed ending the league’s tax-exempt status and putting its coveted anti-trust exception up for a five year review.
The finding suggest that, over the course of time, football could go the way of boxing, a marquee American sport in the early part of the 20th century that declined amid a similar set of dynamics: changing perceptions of its brutality and star athletes making headlines for violent crimes.
The findings of the poll seem to reveal a generational and a political divide over how football is viewed in America. 56 percent of respondents under age 35 said they'd be fine with their son to play. Meanwhile, only 29 percent of those 65 and older would want their kid in the game.
As far as partisan politics are concerned, Democrats edged Republicans in their opposition to kids playing with the pigskin, 52 percent to 47.