This is the week leading up to Super Bowl LII and it’s supposed to be a celebration of the game. However, across multiple media outlets, the discussion has been about the future of football and particularly youth football. ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption had Sports Illustrated and NBC analyst Peter King on and he discussed whether interest in the game is waning, particularly with young people. Justin Timberlake, the Super Bowl halftime entertainer, stated in a Super Bowl press conference that his 2-year old son will never play football. And on NBC, the network that is broadcasting the Super Bowl, Megan Kelly had a segment about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, and the dangers of football. Even this morning, on the Saturday edition of the Today show, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees commented about whether his sons would play football.
My name is Chad Millette and I have been providing coaching clinics for Flag Football Fanatics for the last three seasons – and will be again for the upcoming spring season. I appreciate the folks at Flag Football Fanatics giving me the opportunity to write a guest post on their blog. I have been researching the future of football and writing about it on my own blog (www.hustleandattitude.com) for two years. This week has provided some additional items to discuss with respect to the future of football and particularly the idea that flag football is a fantastic alternative to tackle football for players before high school.
I am a big fan of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption talk show. On Friday’s episode, they had a conversation with Peter King, longtime football writer for Sports Illustrated and part of NBC’s Sunday Night Football crew of analysts/reporters. When asked about an NBC News / Wall Street Journal poll indicating declining interest in the NFL, especially among younger people, King responded that he thinks the league is “very concerned”. After mentioning how the new Thursday Night Football contract with Fox indicates that the network’s appetite for football “can’t be satiated right now”, King took the conversation to what he sees as very concerning: the numbers of young people leaving football to play other sports. He referred to Nick Buoniconti pleading with parents not to let their children play tackle football. King concluded the discussion by saying, “I think the NFL needs, right now, to get behind a movement for youth flag football above everything else. Tackle football in high school; fine. Youth flag football has to be what the NFL uses going forward, in my opinion, or they risk losing more and more parents every year”.