Go Broncos. I still won’t let my sons play football.

Go Broncos. I still won’t let my sons play football.

At the bank yesterday, my teller wore not only a Peyton Manning jersey and Broncos nail extensions, but also “eye black” as a fashion statement. And at Safeway this morning, the manager bid me farewell by saying “Omaha!” instead of just, you know, “Bye.”

I knew what he meant. But barely. That’s because my football fervor has been short-lived. It started late-afternoon on January 24th when the Broncos won the AFC championship, my kids were psyched and their buzz rubbed off. I love our city and lots of folks who’ve grown up loving the Broncos, so two weeks of orange and blue tribalism is easily tolerable.

Although my lack of regular-season fandom has marginalized me from years of newsroom betting pools and Broncos banter, it turns out I’m increasingly not alone. A study this week shows fast-growing ennui about football and finds that feelings about the sport pivot not only on gender lines, but also on lines related to education and political ideology.

According to the fourth annual sports survey by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), football remains — by a wide, 38 percent margin — Americans’ favorite sport to watch, blowing away basketball (11 percent), baseball, (9 percent), soccer (8 percent), auto racing (6 percent) and hockey (5 percent). About two-thirds of Americans say it’s very likely (43 percent) or somewhat likely (25 percent) they’ll watch the Super Bowl this Sunday. That number’s no doubt higher here in Colorado (“Omaha!”).

What’s newsworthy is that the survey shows dangers posed by football are leading an increasing number of Americans to prohibit their kids from participating in the sport. Nearly one-third (31 percent) say that if they had a young son today, they’d not let him play football, while that number was only 22 percent a year ago. (Apparently pollsters didn’t bother seeking attitudes about girls playing football, so don’t kill the messenger).

Notably, women are 11 percentage points more likely than men to say they’d not let their son play football. Women also express greater concern about football safety, with a whopping 12-percentage point jump on the issue in just one year (due, no doubt, to the recent wave of TV, movie, news stories and mom blogs about football related head injuries.)

More fun facts (or not-so-fun, if you happen to be my boys, ages 10 and 12, who’ll be handed a hard-copy of the survey next time they nudge me to sign them up for a league):

  • Folks with a four-year college degree are far more likely to prevent their kids from playing football than folks with a high school education or less (41 percent vs. 28 percent, respectively).
  • And politically left-leaning Americans express more angst about safety issues than those on the right. Close to four in ten (38 percent) liberals say they wouldn’t let their son play football, a view shared by only one-quarter (25 percent) of conservatives.

There goes the nanny state, sweating the small stuff, like brain function. And — like my kids are always telling me — there I go, sounding all like an educated, liberal and buzz-killing mom.

 

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About the Author

Susan Greene

A recovering newspaper journalist and Pulitzer finalist. Her criminal justice reporting includes “Trashing the Truth,” with Miles Moffeit, and “The Gray Box.”
susan@coloradoindependent.com | 720-295-8006 | @greeneindenver

6 Comments

  1. Robert on said:

    I quit the NFL this season..I couldn’t take the pressure of another Bronco’s season…ok, I have been seeing the NFL for what they really are…From the lack of concern for wives and girlfriends, to the fleecing of tax payer money…

  2. Don Lopez on said:

    “Folks with a four-year college degree are far more likely to prevent their kids from playing football than folks with a high school education or less (41 percent vs. 28 percent, respectively).

    And politically left-leaning Americans express more angst about safety issues than those on the right. Close to four in ten (38 percent) liberals say they wouldn’t let their son play football, a view shared by only one-quarter (25 percent) of conservatives.”

    Here’s the way Mrs. Greene chooses to frame the play/don’t play football issue: Those parents who are better educated and more concerned about safety issues don’t allow their sons to play football.

    Meaning, of course, that only parents who are uneducated or unconcerned about safety allow their sons to play football

    Sounds pretty elitist, doesn’t it?

    Is Mrs. Greene one of those who has always hated football and now has a safety reason to hide behind or is she using football to make a political point?

    Does Mrs. Greene believe government intervention is required to save the children?

    And speaking of safety, does Mrs. Greene know how many points a football team gets for a safety?

    Just wondering.

    Go Broncos!!!!!

  3. Will Morrison on said:

    And yet again, Don Lopez chooses to be a pure right winger and be proud about it.

    The fact is, football is one of the quickest ways to remove one’s intelligence from one’s skull. Knowing that this is the case, I’m am amazed that more parents don’t try to steer their kids elsewhere. Does it surprise me that the more educated a parent is, the more likely they are to try to keep their kids away from the “sport”? Not in the least. I would expect that to be the case. Educated people tend to think that having a brain that functions properly is more important than the one in a billion chance that the kid will be a star. Uneducated people hope for that chance so they can live off of it and the glory they think they will get for it. Is that elitist? Possibly, but I think it’s more just reality. If one chooses to be offended by that, so be it.

    If you want your kid to have a future, you don’t let them take drugs because of the POSSIBLE damage it could to to their minds and bodies. You don’t let them do dangerous things that could cost them their lives, or injure themselves in ways they will never recover from. But yet, we let them play football, and this is a KNOWN way to permanently injure both their minds and bodies and potentially kill them. So far this season alone, there have been 12 kids who died from football injuries.

    Is the life of your child worth a game? Back before the padding and helmets, it was routine for those in this game to die. So much so that Teddy Roosevelt threatened to ban the game entirely. We know that even with the padding and helmets, it’s STILL a deadly game. The human body is not designed to take that kind of punishment, and putting it through that can and will do permanent damage.

    You keep your kids from doing other dangerous things, why do you allow this and even encourage it? Ask Brett Farve how he feels about it. He can’t remember his kid’s growing up, and he was there. He can’t remember things that any of us would have no issue with. And it’s because of the brain damage from being het time and time again in ways the body is NOT designed to deal with.

    Mr Lopez would do well to remember that this is children’s (and adult’s) lives and mental faculties that we’re talking about. That’s FAR more important than his hurt feelings about a game.

    This isn’t that much different from the gladiators who gave their lives for the entertainment of the masses, is it? And we wouldn’t allow that, would we, certainly not to the point of wanting our sons to go off and be one, would we? The Romans have the excuse that they used lead as a condiment, and were poisoning themselves daily, we don’t. It’s time to be more civilized than those 2,000 years ago.

  4. Don Lopez on said:

    Mr. Morrison,

    It was not me who introduced politics into the discussion of football it was Mrs. Greene.

    Read this again—slowly if necessary, multiple times if required:

    “And politically left-leaning Americans express more angst about safety issues than those on the right. Close to four in ten (38 percent) liberals say they wouldn’t let their son play football, a view shared by only one-quarter (25 percent) of conservatives.”

    Again, that is a direct quote from Mrs. Greene, not me. It is Mrs. Greene who is injecting politics into football, not me.

    “If you want your kid to have a future, you don’t let them take drugs because of the POSSIBLE damage it could to to their minds and bodies.”

    Drugs, by the way, are also illegal so there’s that. Or are you equating playing football with taking drugs?

    “This isn’t that much different from the gladiators who gave their lives for the entertainment of the masses, is it?”

    Well, yes. I doubt gladiators were paid as much as today’s professional athletes. And I doubt gladiators were given the option of whether or not to participate. And I have yet to see a football player on the field with a sword or a mace. That would probably be consider unsportsmanlike conduct. 15 yard penalty and maybe even a loss of down.

    “That’s FAR more important than his hurt feelings about a (football) game.”

    My feelings aren’t hurt, my team won!

    Just curious: Do you think the government should ban football?

  5. Will Morrison on said:

    Mr Lopez:
    Your interest isn’t in protecting anyone’s lives or futures, it’s in pissing off the powers that be, most likely because there is a democrat in office and he happens to be half black. The level of hate and disdain for all things government is clearly evident in ALL your writings, this one is no different.

    I’m far more concerned about the 97% of NFL players tested who have serious brain injuries, the over 75 of HIGH SCHOOL KIDS that show early signs of the same injuries, and the families of the 12 kids who have died this year because of the game. Interesting how you have NO concern for any of them as long as your team won.

    YOUR team? You own NO part of it. Your only contribution to it is to keep the barbarity going. You pay for the privilege of watching people DESTROY their lives for your amusement. I’m afraid I don’t find that to be a terribly positive attribute.

    As to whether I think it should be banned, it VERY nearly was. Look up Theodore Roosevelt’s statement about it back in the early days of the last century. Your precious very nearly hit the trashheap of history. Maybe it’s time to rethink the whole thing. 97% of those who do drugs do NOT end up brain damaged or dead as a result. Where is the REAL danger?

    Do I think it should be? Who CARES? It won’t be, regardless of what kind of vegetables it turns the players into or how many young men are killed every year playing it. My wishes are totally irrelevant in this.

    I would just prefer that we didn’t glorify something that only benefits a very few and does so much damage to those who participate in it. There are plenty of things that don’t involve innate violence to it’s participants to be entertained by.

    Your REAL hatred here isn’t with anything I’m saying, but anyone who would actually try and change anything that you like, regardless of how damaging it is. YOU like it, so that is all that matters. You hate all government, clearly, or at least anything that tries to HELP a situation or a person or group. I’ve read MORE than enough of your writing to know where you stand without even reading a line. You are THAT transparent, which is really kind of sad. It doesn’t leave any room for growth at all. But then, I don’t think you’re interested in that, are you?

    I’d say hav e a nice day, but you might take that as some kind of order, and it would just piss you off. So never mind.

  6. Don Lopez on said:

    Mr. Morrison,

    I keep forgetting you can’t spell Morrison without m-o-r-o-n.

    Seriously, you’ve got to relax. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and imagine you’re in paradise: Bernie Sanders is president, conservatism has been banned, all Republicans are in retraining camps, competitive sports have been eliminated and when teams do play they divide all points, runs, goals scored evenly between the two teams.

    “YOUR team? You own NO part of it.” You do realize don’t you that when I say my team won the word “my” means the team I root for (in this case the Broncos) and not the team I own. Please tell me you at least understand that. Please.

    “97% of those who do drugs do NOT end up brain damaged or dead as a result. Where is the REAL danger?” So your plan is to legalize drugs and ban football? Good luck with that!

    “Do I think (football) should be (banned)? Who CARES?” Finally, something we agree on.

    “I’ve read MORE than enough of your writing to know where you stand without even reading a line.” So you’re what, a mind reader? This may seem obvious but if what I write bothers you to the extent it appears to you may want to consider, well, not reading it.

    Just one more question, where did this come from? “it’s in pissing off the powers that be, most likely because there is a democrat in office and he happens to be half black”

    Do you honestly believe that I’m “pissed off…..because there is a democrat in office and he happens to be half black.”?

    You may want to consider reading what you write – and I know it would be painful — before hitting the “Post Comment” button.

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