Tackle Football as we know it is quickly coming to an end. Anyone who doesn’t see that is too scared to look clearly. The real question isn’t whether Football as we know it is ending. Heck, Roger Goodell himself said the NFL would bear no resemblance to what Fans grew up calling Football.
It’s whether we’re watching the Game of Tackle Football come to an end.
It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that Youth Tackle Football is finished. From California to New York, states are rushing to curb Youth Tackle Football in a desperate attempt to keep the growing support for an outright Ban of the whole Sports from being successful.
Today over half want the NFL shut down and as many as two-thirds want the same thing for Contact by Kids. The NFL has shied away from having its name associated with the “Heads Up” Youth Program it funds, while racing to have its name all over Youth Flag Football. And even planning on airing Professional Flag Football Games on the NFL Network.
In Chicago, while the number of Varsity Players has been declining, Junior Varsity has seen a huge black hole suck away 30% of Freshmen and a whopping 44% of Sophomore Players. Schools struggle to keep JV Programs alive. And what Chicago sees is happening all over the Country.
The fear at the lower levels is intense. This leads to High School Programs having to settle for anyone they can get. Most still can Field Teams. As long as they don’t get hit with injuries, because the Back-Up Ranks are pretty thin in many places. But they’re having to use Players that ten years ago wouldn’t have made it through the 1st week of Try-Outs. Many Coaches quietly acknowledge they put Players on the Field whose safety they fear for because they simply aren’t physically up for the Sport. But they have no choice. Because the alternative is forfeiting Seasons for lack of Players.
This is just starting to unravel and the Lawsuits against Youth, Scholastic and Collegiate Football haven’t even had time to work their way through the Courts yet. As $Billions start changing hands, we’ll see Programs shut down overnight.
The Liability costs just plain being too much.
The bottom is falling out of Tackle Football. It’s hard to envision a top that can be sustained long that’s built on a foundation of Flag Football. We simply can’t lose everything below High School Varsity and lose lots of those and smaller College Programs as well and continue to have anything resembling what we have today that lasts.
The biggest shift has already taken place. One that noone ever talks about. The loss of prestige of High School Football.
For many years, interest among Youth for Football has been much lower than the general Public as a whole. BUT, when Kids reach High School, everyone’s a Fan. Because to not be part of the Football craze for your High School Team is to be isolated from the others. So every year, millions of teenagers who never cared at all about Football would become Fans simply because they wanted to fit in. And both College Football and the NFL relied on that transition taking place for their own support.
But Football isn’t cool anymore. Especially among younger People who want to be part of the new fitting in. Showing how “sensitive” they are. To not be sensitive to Football’s dangers is to become an outcast today among America’s Youth.
And a bedrock that Collegiate and Professional Football counted on for their own support is beginning to no longer exist.
We haven’t even begun to see what affects that will have on the numbers of Football Fans and Players. But it won’t be good.