River Plouffe Vogel, Sports Editor
Another year of the NFL has come and gone, of course this will be published before the final results of the Super Bowl, yet regardless of who wins, this year has been nothing short of turbulent for the league. Since its creation, football has been a powerhouse in American culture. Generating billions of dollars in revenue, bringing in millions and millions of views each night and finding its way into every facet of pop-culture, from fashion to music. For a sport played almost exclusively in the United States, franchise’s like the Dallas Cowboys have become one of the most valuable in the world, competing with the likes of international soccer tycoons such as Real Madrid or Barcelona. From an athlete’s perspective, football is the ultimate test of skill and ability, the perfect place to showcase ones quickness, strength and toughness, all highly touted aspects of America’s intensely masculin sports culture. For spectators it’s hard to imagine a sport that keeps people at the edge of their seats, or sends shivers down their backs the way football does. Whether you grew up playing, watching or both, it’s likely you had friends or family that spoke about football as if it was religion. There are entire towns that literally eat, sleep and breathe football. However for such a dominant part of not just sports culture, but American culture, many are skeptical about the future of this sport. Since 2015 viewership has dropped by the millions, and there aren’t just less people watching, there are less people playing the sport as well. High school football is experiencing its first drop in participation, and the same goes for middle school football as well. A huge part of this drop is of course due to the violent nature of the sport. It’s a big reason why the NFL has generated so many views, but it’s also why so many parents have taken their kids out of the sport. The evidence is overwhelming now that concussion are extremely damaging to the brain, but it’s not just the big hits that matter. Study shows that overtime, all the smaller hits to the head are often much more concerning than a single, larger concussion, especially for those with a developing brain, and this damage is irreversible. This year the league was plagued with injuries, not just head related, and it’s becoming hard and harder for the league to distract the viewers from this aspect of the game. And like everything else this year, football has been unable to escape the intense political climate going on in our country. Kneeling during the national anthem made national headlines a few season ago, but this season the president himself got involved and it turned into an intense, nasty public back and forth between the president, owners, coaches, players and fans. This has likely added to the existing animosity many people feel about what players rights should be and how much the deserve. Being an athlete in the league means your every move is critiqued and scrutinized by countless “experts” many of whom never played a game in their life. To top it all off, people have been skeptical of the NFL on a whole for sometime now. From crazy conspiracy theories, to a general dislike of the league commissioner. In a article by 24/7 Wall Street, they ranked America’s most hated companies. It came as no surprise that the NFL was amongst the most hated, but may have come as a surprise that it beat out organizations like the “Weinstein Company” and “Monsanto” just to name a few. It’s tough to say what will happen moving forward, but one this is for certain the future of football in America is changing, and changing fast.