Football will disappear. Maybe not tomorrow, but at some point, football will practically vanish from popular culture. Not like a snap of the fingers, but gradually it will recede from the horizon in a slow march away from its reign as America’s pastime. Too violent. Too many stories about ex-NFL players killing themselves to escape pain. Too many reports about the hazards and irreversibility of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Parents won’t let their sons play and Americans will ultimately turn away from the sport.
Many accept this dire outlook, particularly in the wake of a recent study that found CTE in 99 percent of the studied brains from deceased NFL players. Much of the football community chides detractors for softness. University of North Carolina football coach Larry Fedora, for instance, claimed the attack on football could bring America down.
The NFL, nonetheless, clearly fears the future. This explains why its leadership, seemingly each summer, concocts a new set of rules that supposedly take away some risks associated with the game, such as the recent rule changes on how players can use their helmets. But an inherently violent sport that requires humans to collide with other humans at maximum speed will forever be unsafe. And the new rules the NFL implements are more effective at simply changing the game, as Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman notes, than making it meaningfully less dangerous.