Speaking at the University of Maryland’s annual Shirley Povich symposium, Bob Costas created headlines on Tuesday night while pontificating on the pending demise of the NFL; calling it the “most significant story in American Sports”. Costas said that once “a cash machine”, barring technological developments in safety, the game of football is facing extinction. The NBC Football Night in America host believes as more research becomes available on the risks associated with CTE, families will come to the “common sense conclusion” that children should not play football until the age of 18; and once that happens “the whole thing could collapse like a house of cards.”
Howie Long-Short: To imply the league is anything but a cash cow right now is misleading. The NFL is going to bring in an estimated $14 billion this season; 40% more than MLB, the second biggest revenue generator in America sports. Despite the league’s declining ratings, TV advertising revenue is up 2% YOY. The NFL has its problems, but generating cash is not one of them.
Fan Marino: I don’t subscribe to the “football is facing extinction” narrative. Participation in youth football (ages 8-14) grew (1.9% for tackle and 8.7% for flag) between 2014-2015 and the states of Oklahoma, Florida and Arkansas have added a combined 150 high school teams over the last 5 years. The Boston University study that found 99% of former NFL players (who donated their brains for research) had CTE, also indicated that just 3 of the 14 former high school players tested showed signs of the disease. No CTE was found in the brains of the 2 players who ended their football careers prior to high school. I would not hesitate to let my child play youth football.
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