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.