Photo Credit: Bleacher Report
Now that the half-centennial anniversary of the Super Bowl has come and gone, we can only wonder what the next fifty years of football have to bring. Stadium innovations, rule adjustments, and even uniform requirements are just a few of the changes we could see in the upcoming years of the National Football League. The next fifty years of NFL seem to be promising, that is, if the NFL can last that long.
It might seem ridiculous to say that the most popular sports league in America is in decline, but with recent links between CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) and the sport of football, the NFL finds itself in a very troubling situation. CTE is a disease of the brain that can lead to fatal mental health problems, such as dementia or depression. The Will Smith movie Concussion helped spread awareness of the dangerous side of football, and the effects have been extremely impactful.
Numerous NFL players such as Chris Borland and A.J. Tarpley have decided to retire at a very early age because of safety concerns, and widespread concussion awareness has led to lower youth participation rates. In fact, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell pressured League Doctor Elliot Pellman into retirement over his controversial actions and statements regarding concussions. Another doctor associated with the NFL, Richard Ellenbogen, is under investigation for allegedly trying to influence a government study regarding concussions. With this dangerous aspect of football becoming a hot topic all over the country, and the NFL’s apparent attempt to cover this topic up, it’s no wonder parents and players have safety concerns.
There will almost always be a large enough supply of players for the NFL, but if enough top-tier talents choose their own safety over stardom, the quality and relevance of the league will diminish. Without relevance there is no revenue, with revenue there are no players, and without players there is no league. As stated before, it may seem crazy to think that our beloved sport is diminishing, but what is normal right now could be considered outlandish someday. Who knows, but how the NFL is looked at the future could be comparable to how our society sees gladiator battles as horrible and barbaric.