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NBA Live may replace the American Football League

2017-12-13 13:45:55

One major reason Americans are stepping back from football is the danger. Physical risk has always been one of the attractions of the sport – a rite of manhood. But recent studies showing just how severe the brain damage is to the players shocked us. A 2017 study published in the Journal of American Medical Association discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in 110 out of 111 brains of former NFL players.

The main force behind Abdul-Jabbar's argument is that a culture shift is causing the NBA to more reflect current societal norms. In a time where sports ratings are falling he writes basketball is thriving.

But America has changed and with that change we are seeing a shifting away from hoisting football on our collective shoulders. Although football remains our most popular professional sport that popularity has been declining over the past five years from 67% saying they were fans in 2012 to 57% in 2017. Professional baseball has also fallen 2% during that time. However professional basketball has risen 3%. Before anyone starts blaming Colin Kaepernick let's remember that he first took a knee in 2016 and that the fan base erosion had already been strong several years before that.

Another reason beyond culture is the dangerous nature of the NFL. Fans are getting to peer behind the veil of concussions and their effects -- and what they're seeing isn't pretty.

American youth both boys and girls while football has dropped to third place."

All of this makes sense to a degree. The NFL as a league seems to be one big misstep and although the product itself is premium and fun it tends to get lost in the shuffle. The NBA meanwhile has some of the most marketable stars in sports. LeBron James stands chief among them of course but others such as Stephen Curry Kevin Durant James Harden Anthony Davis -- and the list goes on -- have commercial appeal (both literally and figuratively) and are seen regularly on the floor.

The NBA has been more tolerant of its players' freedom of speech. Players and coaches from many teams have silently protested and spoken out to the press. LeBron James Kyrie Irving Jarrett Jack Alan Anderson Deron Williams Kevin Garnett and others wore "I Can't Breathe" T-shirts during warm-ups in 2014 to protest the death of unarmed Eric Garner by police. Steph Curry and Kevin Durant continue to speak out. Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy has said that protesting athletes are "models of American patriotism". Spurs coach Gregg Popovich echoed that sentiment when he said that his players have "the organization's full support to speak their minds". Has speaking out affected ratings? This year the NBA despite its protests has increased its TV ratings by 32% while the NFL's viewership dropped from 16.5m viewers last year to 15m this year.

Things aren't perfect. There is still pressure to silence players. But the NBA has a chance to seize this moment and boldly lead by promoting the values and freedoms of the US Constitution. To be not just sports heroes but also social heroes who reflect the kind of engaged Americans who won't tolerate anyone stepping on our values just for the price of a ticket a hot dog and a beer.

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