Seems the industry’s biggest problem has been swept aside.
Despite another harangue from the Oval Office, this one about ESPN’s decision not to show the national anthem presentation during Monday Night Football telecasts, National Football League owners and the football industry had a pretty good stretch of days at the end of last week. Two meaningless pre-season games on Thursday and Friday night won the nightly ratings game, FOX on Thursday, NBC on Friday. But more importantly, the football industry got word from the National Federation of State High School Associations that 2017 was not a bad year. There were just 20,000 fewer players than in 2016, sure it was a drop of a bit more than two percent but the football industry leaders should be breathing a slight sigh of relief. Parents are still signing their children up to play football despite more and more evidence that there is a link from repeated hits to the head and concussions to permanent brain injuries. There were 1,038,179 children in uniform in 2017. Eleven player football remained the most popular high school sport. There were 14,099 high schools which had football teams in 2017, up by 52 schools compared to 2016.
The numbers are remarkable considering how much negative publicity the National Football League and the football industry has been getting from former college and pro players who have documented their stories about having really bad times after their careers ended including the loss of memory and constant pain. The owners feared the movie, Concussion, but it did not have any impact on those who enjoy football or those parents who make a decision on whether their children should participate in football at the youth to high school level. NFL owners, with an eye on their business, aren’t sure if repeated hits to the head causes permanent damage. The football industry’s players’ pipeline remains solid.