Football is now by far the most popular sport in our country. As Howie Long said, “Baseball is America’s past time but football is America’s passion”. In my mind this has never been more true than it is today. The NFL ratings are topping the all time viewing marks on a weekly basis. There’s an NFL Network, an NFL Mobile App, and each Super Bowl is the most watched show of all time. College football ratings and attendance are at an all time high, college bowls are paying out incredible amounts and college coaches can retire after one contract. Even high school recruiting is a business and signing day is covered like the NFL Draft. So it stands to reason that the football consuming public would follow daily football stories like soap operas. And these stories, football stories, are beginning to define our culture.
Take for example the most recent stories. Richard Sherman’s rant after the NFC Championship Game that garnered so much attention and now the story that Co SEC Defensive Player of the Year and certain NFL draft pick Michael Sam, is gay. These stories matter to us, but why? Because the responses to these stories represent how America feels about on going controversial issues, like bigoted perceptions of black men/athletes and gay rights. Bingo, just like that these issues become national topics of discussions and the delivery system; football.
Let’s dig a little deeper. The NFL concussion issue. This issue of the long term brain damage that occurs based of repeated concussions is a big enough deal that the NFL actually settled a law suit with former players (currently being reviewed by appellate court) for several hundred milliions. But for the rest of the country at issue is youth football and whether or not we are putting our kids at future risk by allowing them to play football. With hundreds of thousands of kids participating in youth and high school football, this is a huge parenting concern. And the new show on cable called Friday Night Tykes shines a spotlight on how parents push their kids in sport. Parenting is always a concern for our country and for these two particular parenting issues, the delivery system; football.
There are many issues that football has highlighted for us in the recent past including, gun ownership, marijuana use, mental health issues, drunk driving, and the need for labor unions…to name a few. All major topics of discussion for our country right now brought to you in football context, every week during the NFL season and beyond. Each of these topics makes America think about, discuss and then choose a side based on these things affect us. Our responses are real actionable responses because a lot of the issues are real issues we face daily. A reality show in the truest sense. And it really hits home.