It goes without saying that the Super Bowl has gone well beyond a mere sports event. For all intents and purposes, it is an unofficial national holiday and cultural event, with parties, attention on the commercials and on the half-time entertainment.
But the game of football itself may be showing signs of vulnerability. A new NBC News/WSJ poll shows that many Americans are afraid of football concussions. According to that poll, 40 percent of Americans want their children playing any sport other than football. The new awareness (and fear) of the dangers of concussion and of repeated small hits is especially strong among parents with higher levels of education and income.
Another possible reflection of that fear: in recent years, Pop Warner, the country’s biggest youth football program, has seen a drop in participation of almost 10 percent.
This comes as football players at Northwestern are seeking to form a labor union to earn a place at the table to discuss key issues like medical care and health consequences which arise long after a player’s career is over.
Bottom line: the game is in a state of flux. Down the road, it could become a game that attracts as players mostly those from poor families with lower levels of education, awareness, and options. And even if the collegiate unionization effort fails, it’s a shot across the bow from players who want a greater say in what happens to their bodies and their futures. We talked about the unionization effort on last night’s show.
This should give all of us who watch Sunday’s game much more to munch on then just guacamole and chips.