Monday, November 10, 2014

NYT Football's political divide

This article from the NYT shows how any medium can go from mass market appeal to being pushed to the fringes of a niche audience. Football for sometime it has become the de facto sport of the GOP and the American Conservative movement. Which embraces violent hyper-masculinity, in the wake of the concussion crisis any attempt to make the sport safer has been met with cries "feminization" of such conservative commentators such as Rush Limbaugh. As the reports of CTE and adverse health effects are not an attack on the sport but their own manhood itself.

Concussions is causing this political divide as those on blue liberal states tend to be better educated, which leads to being more informed about the long term health risks, are opting their sons from playing or their own sons are also opting themselves out. Malcom Gladwell author of "The Tipping Point" speculated on the ghettoization of the sport like boxing it will become a sport that only the poorest and most desperate undertake to lift themselves out of poverty. Where football is king are the red states that tend to be the least educated and affluent states in America.

This political divide also draws another parallel of a possible demise, one brought upfront with Adrian Peterson, corporal punishment. Corporal Punishment used to be a mainstay in ever public school in the USA, then in 1962 the first studies came out showing that corporal punishment has adverse effects on children. In 1977 the District of Columbia was the first to pass a  ban against it in schools, before first ban local districts were already dropping it out of fear of lawsuits. Now it is only legal in 19 states mostly exclusively  used in evangelical christian private schools, while in public schools it is now in a diminished capacity as parents need to sign legal waivers giving schools the permission to use corporal punishment.

In High Schools football is still a cultural cornerstone of the American adolescent experience, like corporal punishment the concussion issue bring with it health risks and a potential legal liability. School sports have another liability paddling does not, a financial one, reality is that school sports programs are massive money losers for 90% of all schools, the billion dollar NFL money tree grows its roots in the youth level, Schools and youth leagues. If those dry up the NFL will be slowly strangled to death. A full on class action lawsuit assault on the NFL will not dent it, but in guerrilla warfare you never take on the colossus.. You go after what supports it and feeds it, that will take the form of class action lawsuits against HS programs. With them already losing money combined with  threat of a lawsuit schools schools find it easier to just shut it down.

Sign of this will be local legal firms having TV/internet ads for class action lawsuits against HS football teams over permanent brain damage. The same way we see for asbestos or silicone breast implants. Next will be thie begining of the end then inevitable Republican Politicians and conservative commentators start to cry about the "WAR ON FOOTBALL" as High Schools separate themselves of this timeless tradition. Irony is that they themselves caused it, they are the ones who are cutting budgets to education which will force schools in this changing high tech economy to make the hard choice between trade and career programs that guarantees jobs or a losing football team that might have a 1 player out of 500 get a college scholarship.

Then one generation will watch some old movie or tv show about the high school jocks running the place and wonder what the heck is that all about. Their grandparents will complain that today's kids are worthless because their school does not sponsor a character building ritual brain smashing activity.