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Death of football? That's crazy, until you start thinking about it

By Gregg Doyel | CBSSports.com National Columnist

The timing is wrong for this story, but then again the timing would never be right. Because this story considers the idea that football's popularity -- even as millions of fans are tuning in this week to the scouting combine to watch something as unwatchable as potential draft picks running and lifting -- will fade over the coming years.

Maybe to extinction.

That's the hypothesis, and listen, it's not my hypothesis. Let me duck away from that one right now and put the blame for this story where it belongs, which is to say, with someone else. In January and then again earlier this month, an ESPN website ran stories suggesting the death of football. Hyperbolic -- that was my thought. In mid-February a Yahoo website ran a similar story, this one suggesting the death of youth football. More hyperbole. But I was starting to wonder.

Four days later, the NFL trotted out commissioner Roger Goodell, put him on one of the biggest sports-talk radio stations in the biggest city in America to say that we wouldn't see less football in the future; we would see more. Goodell told WEPN-AM 1050 in New York that he hears it "from the fans consistently -- people want more football." And then he said the NFL was open to increasing the regular-season schedule to 18 games in 2013 or '14.

Now that Goodell was doing damage control, I was really interested in the hypothesis -- not mine, mind you -- that football is entering its most dangerous era. And then five days after Goodell's comments, NFL analyst Troy Aikman went on HBO's Real Sports and said football in this country "is at a real crossroads.

"If I had a 10-year-old boy," Aikman said, "I don't know that I'd be real inclined to encourage him to go play football, in light of what we're learning from head injuries. And so what is the sport going to look like 20 years from now? I believe, and this is my opinion, that at some point football is not going to be the No. 1 sport."

Now I'm sold. This hypothesis is no longer their hypothesis -- it's mine. Now I'm starting to think, you know, there's something to this. At the very least, there's something to the possibility that football's popularity, if not its outright existence, could become endangered thanks to mounting head injuries.

Troy Aikman makes his money from football, yet he's telling the world he isn't sure he would let his kid play. Aikman suffered a series of concussions with the Dallas Cowboys, so he knows what he's talking about. If he stays on TV long enough, we'll know as well. Anecdotal evidence suggests Aikman's cognitive function -- his ability to think quickly, even to speak clearly -- has been compromised by all those concussions. It's a matter of time.

But anyway, this story isn't about Troy Aikman. It's about the future of football in this country. Football's barbarism has been debated for decades, but not so long ago the central issue was death. I don't want to sound callous, because that's not the intention here, but not enough players have died to seriously threaten the sport.

Death is no longer the outcome people discuss. Now it's concussions, which can be the same thing. A series of concussions isn't an instant death -- not like a broken neck or dehydration or heart attack -- but it can be a death sentence. It's a living death, when the brain has been repeatedly battered and the football player morphs into someone unrecognizable to friends and family. Those stories are mounting.

Hall of Fame center Mike Webster going homeless before dying at 50. Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey moving into an assisted-living center at 65 with dementia. Star safeties Dave Duerson and Andre Waters committing suicide, neither older than 50, both ruined by concussions.

Earl Campbell. Al Toon.

Troy Aikman.

Players are getting bigger, faster. Helmets are getting better, but it's more effective at protecting the skull than the brain inside. A high-speed impact jostles the brain, and a helmet won't stop it from slamming into the skull.

And this isn't just the NFL. If it was, we wouldn't be having this discussion, or this hypothesis. People in this country, me included, are willing to watch the biggest, strongest, fastest football players bash their skulls to their heart's content. It's their risk, not ours, and they're compensated fabulously.

But this is happening in college, in high school, in youth leagues. This is our risk, or our children's risk. And they're not compensated at all. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high school athletes report nearly 4 million concussions every year -- and the CDC fears 80 percent of the concussions suffered by athletes at that age go unrecognized, unreported. Which is why the National Center for Biotechnology Information refers to concussions as "the silent epidemic."

As more years pass, the volume will go up. More NFL players -- guys we're watching today -- will end up homeless, in nursing homes, suicidal, dead. This story is only going to get more gruesome, and parents are going to take note, more than they already are.

Today it's Troy Aikman saying he's not sure he would let his son play football. Soon it'll be the young parent down the street. Then more of them. And more.

You can't play football without football players.

What would be the tipping point? I can imagine it. A popular player -- I'm thinking of a particular guy, but don't want to name him -- gets destroyed by a hit to the head and has to retire, then lives his death right before our eyes. You think it can't happen? It already has, with Webster and Mackey and more, too many more. And it will happen again.

I can imagine the day when a U.S. politician makes like John McCain in 1996, when McCain took on the UFC, only this time the politician decries football as "human cockfighting." I can imagine the day when a handful of high schools stop offering football for safety reasons, liability reasons, even lack-of-interest reasons.

I can't imagine the death of football, no.

But give me another decade or two. Ask me again.

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They need to get rid of automatic replay of all scoring plays and turnovers.  Now every exciting play is immediately followed by a hmm I wonder if it will stand.  We don't celebrate the play anymore,

Couple of thoughts: The popularity of the NFL increased with the rise in fantasy football.  I wonder if FFL reached its peak and is starting to tail off.  Maybe I'm way off, but it seems to me t

Perhaps.  But, there are a lot of other things that neuroscientists need to do. 1.  Establish an agreed upon pathology that differentiates CTE.  At present there are preliminary criteria, all of

I played football growing up. I like the lessons it teaches about toughness and determination, but the sport has a serious problem in that it's downright unhealthy to play. The very thing that makes it exciting (speed and strength) is the very thing that results in career-ending collisions and permanent brain damage for players who reach the highest levels of the game.

If I could have a do-over of my sporting career, I would play basketball and/or soccer instead of football. Those are the two sports I would recommend for a young athlete. I think soccer and basketball will be the most popular sports in this country eventually. They're the two games that seem to have the most global appeal around the world. Soccer is already the most popular sport in the world and basketball is becoming a global game. Soccer is really starting to gain traction in this country. With improved access on TV and the internet, more and more people are starting follow the biggest players and leagues. I think that will siphon an increasingly large number of athletes away from football.

I think baseball is trending downwards and that football will likely follow it.

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When Boxing became too soft the UFC emerged and has slowly but steadily risen in popularity. Humans will always have their hard hitting blood thirsty sports. It's in our nature. If Football is ever dumbed down to that degree another sport will rise in its place.

Not to mention football is a business. If it really did start to die out I can't believe they wouldn't take whatever steps necessary to bring it back. Owners want to get paid, players want to get paid.

I don't know I just can't see it happening.

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It'll never go away or die, but barring some sort of equipment breakthroughs that protect the head better I can see a time 20-30 years from now when it's either vastly different -- with much less contact -- or marginalized in the same way that boxing has been.

Boxing hasn't been marginalized because of the violence. UFC is plenty violent and it just keeps gaining popularity. Boxing is hurting because of poor management. If you could get Pacquiao and Mayweather to fight tomorrow, millions of fans would come rushing back. The fact that the two best boxers in the world are the same size but they couldn't set up the fight tells you all you need to know about that sport.
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I played football growing up. I like the lessons it teaches about toughness and determination, but the sport has a serious problem in that it's downright unhealthy to play. The very thing that makes it exciting (speed and strength) is the very thing that results in career-ending collisions and permanent brain damage for players who reach the highest levels of the game. If I could have a do-over of my sporting career, I would play basketball and/or soccer instead of football. Those are the two sports I would recommend for a young athlete. I think soccer and basketball will be the most popular sports in this country eventually. They're the two games that seem to have the most global appeal around the world. Soccer is already the most popular sport in the world and basketball is becoming a global game. Soccer is really starting to gain traction in this country. With improved access on TV and the internet, more and more people are starting follow the biggest players and leagues. I think that will siphon an increasingly large number of athletes away from football.I think baseball is trending downwards and that football will likely follow it.

Fyi, concussions are a huge deal in soccer too.
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The premise of this article assumes that there will be no action taken to reduce the concussion rate. We are already seeing the NFL take big steps towards addressing the problem with rule changes and using words like "defenseless" to change the manner in which the game is played. Like it or not, these rules are necessary to keep the game vital.

Second there will be advances in equipment to help address this issue. Helmets will be improved to better absorb shock. Finally, coaches will stop coaching to "lead with your head" techniques in regards to blocking and tackling .

All over this will permeate down to the college and high school levels.

More than anything else over-saturation of the product will cause a decline in popularity.

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I played football growing up. I like the lessons it teaches about toughness and determination, but the sport has a serious problem in that it's downright unhealthy to play. The very thing that makes it exciting (speed and strength) is the very thing that results in career-ending collisions and permanent brain damage for players who reach the highest levels of the game. If I could have a do-over of my sporting career, I would play basketball and/or soccer instead of football. Those are the two sports I would recommend for a young athlete. I think soccer and basketball will be the most popular sports in this country eventually. They're the two games that seem to have the most global appeal around the world. Soccer is already the most popular sport in the world and basketball is becoming a global game. Soccer is really starting to gain traction in this country. With improved access on TV and the internet, more and more people are starting follow the biggest players and leagues. I think that will siphon an increasingly large number of athletes away from football.I think baseball is trending downwards and that football will likely follow it.

Fyi, concussions are a huge deal in soccer too.
and hockey and lacrosseThe doomsday theorists are always out there, whether it's climate change, the economy, or the death of football. At the end of the day, we're going to have warm sunny summers, cold blustery winters, the economy will peak and tank and peak again...and tank again...and through it all, we'll still have football to talk about too. This is much ado about nothing, but it does seem to be en vogue to to write about the death of football these days.
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I played football growing up. I like the lessons it teaches about toughness and determination, but the sport has a serious problem in that it's downright unhealthy to play. The very thing that makes it exciting (speed and strength) is the very thing that results in career-ending collisions and permanent brain damage for players who reach the highest levels of the game. If I could have a do-over of my sporting career, I would play basketball and/or soccer instead of football. Those are the two sports I would recommend for a young athlete. I think soccer and basketball will be the most popular sports in this country eventually. They're the two games that seem to have the most global appeal around the world. Soccer is already the most popular sport in the world and basketball is becoming a global game. Soccer is really starting to gain traction in this country. With improved access on TV and the internet, more and more people are starting follow the biggest players and leagues. I think that will siphon an increasingly large number of athletes away from football.I think baseball is trending downwards and that football will likely follow it.

Fyi, concussions are a huge deal in soccer too.
and hockey and lacrosseThe doomsday theorists are always out there, whether it's climate change, the economy, or the death of football. At the end of the day, we're going to have warm sunny summers, cold blustery winters, the economy will peak and tank and peak again...and tank again...and through it all, we'll still have football to talk about too. This is much ado about nothing, but it does seem to be en vogue to to write about the death of football these days.
Yea, and 50 years ago baseball was the national past time. Things change. Basketball has grown tremendously in the past thirty years. Soccer seems poised to potentially do the same.
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I have three boys. Twins in second grade. I've been coaching them in flag football, which started in kindergarten. Youth football where I live starts in fourth grade. Fourth grade.

It's insane to me that we're starting there. I loved the game when I played in high school, but I sit here today at 36, already needing a knee replacement, largely because of my choice to play.

I'm not sure I'd encourage my kids to do the same.

Edited by Man in the yellow hat
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I played football growing up. I like the lessons it teaches about toughness and determination, but the sport has a serious problem in that it's downright unhealthy to play. The very thing that makes it exciting (speed and strength) is the very thing that results in career-ending collisions and permanent brain damage for players who reach the highest levels of the game. If I could have a do-over of my sporting career, I would play basketball and/or soccer instead of football. Those are the two sports I would recommend for a young athlete. I think soccer and basketball will be the most popular sports in this country eventually. They're the two games that seem to have the most global appeal around the world. Soccer is already the most popular sport in the world and basketball is becoming a global game. Soccer is really starting to gain traction in this country. With improved access on TV and the internet, more and more people are starting follow the biggest players and leagues. I think that will siphon an increasingly large number of athletes away from football.I think baseball is trending downwards and that football will likely follow it.

Fyi, concussions are a huge deal in soccer too.
and hockey and lacrosseThe doomsday theorists are always out there, whether it's climate change, the economy, or the death of football. At the end of the day, we're going to have warm sunny summers, cold blustery winters, the economy will peak and tank and peak again...and tank again...and through it all, we'll still have football to talk about too. This is much ado about nothing, but it does seem to be en vogue to to write about the death of football these days.
Yea, and 50 years ago baseball was the national past time. Things change. Basketball has grown tremendously in the past thirty years. Soccer seems poised to potentially do the same.
There is no action is soccer. It is fun to play but to watch is a bore. That is why baseball is on the fall. Kids these days want fast paced high energy sports. Look at what is on the rise..football, basketball, ufc; where there is action. hockey suffers, baseball suffers, I just dont see a game where it seems every game ends with a 2-0 score is going to be exciting enough for kids these days.
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I played football growing up. I like the lessons it teaches about toughness and determination, but the sport has a serious problem in that it's downright unhealthy to play. The very thing that makes it exciting (speed and strength) is the very thing that results in career-ending collisions and permanent brain damage for players who reach the highest levels of the game.

If I could have a do-over of my sporting career, I would play basketball and/or soccer instead of football. Those are the two sports I would recommend for a young athlete. I think soccer and basketball will be the most popular sports in this country eventually. They're the two games that seem to have the most global appeal around the world. Soccer is already the most popular sport in the world and basketball is becoming a global game. Soccer is really starting to gain traction in this country. With improved access on TV and the internet, more and more people are starting follow the biggest players and leagues. I think that will siphon an increasingly large number of athletes away from football.

I think baseball is trending downwards and that football will likely follow it.

Fyi, concussions are a huge deal in soccer too.
and hockey and lacrosse

The doomsday theorists are always out there, whether it's climate change, the economy, or the death of football. At the end of the day, we're going to have warm sunny summers, cold blustery winters, the economy will peak and tank and peak again...and tank again...and through it all, we'll still have football to talk about too. This is much ado about nothing, but it does seem to be en vogue to to write about the death of football these days.

Yea, and 50 years ago baseball was the national past time. Things change.

Basketball has grown tremendously in the past thirty years. Soccer seems poised to potentially do the same.

There is no action is soccer. It is fun to play but to watch is a bore. That is why baseball is on the fall. Kids these days want fast paced high energy sports. Look at what is on the rise..football, basketball, ufc; where there is action. hockey suffers, baseball suffers, I just dont see a game where it seems every game ends with a 2-0 score is going to be exciting enough for kids these days.

From my experience, most of the people who say this haven't actually sat down and watched elite level club soccer matches. Sure, there are some boring games from time to time (like any sport), but it's pretty entertaining and the time passes quickly.

I dare you to watch this game and then say there's no action in soccer:

:)

Edited by EBF
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The premise of this article assumes that there will be no action taken to reduce the concussion rate. We are already seeing the NFL take big steps towards addressing the problem with rule changes and using words like "defenseless" to change the manner in which the game is played. Like it or not, these rules are necessary to keep the game vital.

Second there will be advances in equipment to help address this issue. Helmets will be improved to better absorb shock. Finally, coaches will stop coaching to "lead with your head" techniques in regards to blocking and tackling .

All over this will permeate down to the college and high school levels.

More than anything else over-saturation of the product will cause a decline in popularity.

No helmet in the world makes a difference in a lot of the collisions that cause concussions. It's a whiplash effect that can't be stopped by a helmet, no matter how great.
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I played football growing up. I like the lessons it teaches about toughness and determination, but the sport has a serious problem in that it's downright unhealthy to play. The very thing that makes it exciting (speed and strength) is the very thing that results in career-ending collisions and permanent brain damage for players who reach the highest levels of the game.

If I could have a do-over of my sporting career, I would play basketball and/or soccer instead of football. Those are the two sports I would recommend for a young athlete. I think soccer and basketball will be the most popular sports in this country eventually. They're the two games that seem to have the most global appeal around the world. Soccer is already the most popular sport in the world and basketball is becoming a global game. Soccer is really starting to gain traction in this country. With improved access on TV and the internet, more and more people are starting follow the biggest players and leagues. I think that will siphon an increasingly large number of athletes away from football.

I think baseball is trending downwards and that football will likely follow it.

Fyi, concussions are a huge deal in soccer too.
and hockey and lacrosse

The doomsday theorists are always out there, whether it's climate change, the economy, or the death of football. At the end of the day, we're going to have warm sunny summers, cold blustery winters, the economy will peak and tank and peak again...and tank again...and through it all, we'll still have football to talk about too. This is much ado about nothing, but it does seem to be en vogue to to write about the death of football these days.

Yea, and 50 years ago baseball was the national past time. Things change.

Basketball has grown tremendously in the past thirty years. Soccer seems poised to potentially do the same.

There is no action is soccer. It is fun to play but to watch is a bore. That is why baseball is on the fall. Kids these days want fast paced high energy sports. Look at what is on the rise..football, basketball, ufc; where there is action. hockey suffers, baseball suffers, I just dont see a game where it seems every game ends with a 2-0 score is going to be exciting enough for kids these days.

From my experience, most of the people who say this haven't actually sat down and watched elite level club soccer matches. Sure, there are some boring games from time to time (like any sport), but it's pretty entertaining and the time passes quickly.

I dare you to watch this game and then say there's no action in soccer:

:)

I've played for 40+ years. It's a great sport to play, but it is boring to watch. I'll watch the World Cup, but that's about it. It will never surpass football in the US as a spectator sport. Edited by Hoosier16
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I played football growing up. I like the lessons it teaches about toughness and determination, but the sport has a serious problem in that it's downright unhealthy to play. The very thing that makes it exciting (speed and strength) is the very thing that results in career-ending collisions and permanent brain damage for players who reach the highest levels of the game. If I could have a do-over of my sporting career, I would play basketball and/or soccer instead of football. Those are the two sports I would recommend for a young athlete. I think soccer and basketball will be the most popular sports in this country eventually. They're the two games that seem to have the most global appeal around the world. Soccer is already the most popular sport in the world and basketball is becoming a global game. Soccer is really starting to gain traction in this country. With improved access on TV and the internet, more and more people are starting follow the biggest players and leagues. I think that will siphon an increasingly large number of athletes away from football.I think baseball is trending downwards and that football will likely follow it.

Fyi, concussions are a huge deal in soccer too.
and hockey and lacrosseThe doomsday theorists are always out there, whether it's climate change, the economy, or the death of football. At the end of the day, we're going to have warm sunny summers, cold blustery winters, the economy will peak and tank and peak again...and tank again...and through it all, we'll still have football to talk about too. This is much ado about nothing, but it does seem to be en vogue to to write about the death of football these days.
Yea, and 50 years ago baseball was the national past time. Things change. Basketball has grown tremendously in the past thirty years. Soccer seems poised to potentially do the same.
Neither basketball nor soccer have zero chance, none at all, to supplant football in your lifetime. Or your kids' lifetime. Sorry. Edited by cobalt_27
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Fyi, concussions are a huge deal in soccer too.

This is true. When they flop like that, sometimes they really bang their heads good. :unsure: Btw, I think the PROBLEM is too much equipment. Take away helmets, facemasks, and the like, and it makes people be more cautious. Helmets and pads protect too well. See, e.g., rugby - a more brutal sport, IMO.
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I played football growing up. I like the lessons it teaches about toughness and determination, but the sport has a serious problem in that it's downright unhealthy to play. The very thing that makes it exciting (speed and strength) is the very thing that results in career-ending collisions and permanent brain damage for players who reach the highest levels of the game.

If I could have a do-over of my sporting career, I would play basketball and/or soccer instead of football. Those are the two sports I would recommend for a young athlete. I think soccer and basketball will be the most popular sports in this country eventually. They're the two games that seem to have the most global appeal around the world. Soccer is already the most popular sport in the world and basketball is becoming a global game. Soccer is really starting to gain traction in this country. With improved access on TV and the internet, more and more people are starting follow the biggest players and leagues. I think that will siphon an increasingly large number of athletes away from football.

I think baseball is trending downwards and that football will likely follow it.

Fyi, concussions are a huge deal in soccer too.
and hockey and lacrosse

The doomsday theorists are always out there, whether it's climate change, the economy, or the death of football. At the end of the day, we're going to have warm sunny summers, cold blustery winters, the economy will peak and tank and peak again...and tank again...and through it all, we'll still have football to talk about too. This is much ado about nothing, but it does seem to be en vogue to to write about the death of football these days.

Yea, and 50 years ago baseball was the national past time. Things change.

Basketball has grown tremendously in the past thirty years. Soccer seems poised to potentially do the same.

There is no action is soccer. It is fun to play but to watch is a bore. That is why baseball is on the fall. Kids these days want fast paced high energy sports. Look at what is on the rise..football, basketball, ufc; where there is action. hockey suffers, baseball suffers, I just dont see a game where it seems every game ends with a 2-0 score is going to be exciting enough for kids these days.

From my experience, most of the people who say this haven't actually sat down and watched elite level club soccer matches. Sure, there are some boring games from time to time (like any sport), but it's pretty entertaining and the time passes quickly.

I dare you to watch this game and then say there's no action in soccer:

:)

I've played for 40+ years. It's a great sport to play, but it is boring to watch. I'll watch the World Cup, but that's about it. It will never surpass football in the US as a spectator sport.
I'll take that bet. It is already the most watched sport in the world. No reason to think it won't eventually conquer the US.

Eighty years ago no one would've thought football would become more popular than baseball.

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I played football growing up. I like the lessons it teaches about toughness and determination, but the sport has a serious problem in that it's downright unhealthy to play. The very thing that makes it exciting (speed and strength) is the very thing that results in career-ending collisions and permanent brain damage for players who reach the highest levels of the game.

If I could have a do-over of my sporting career, I would play basketball and/or soccer instead of football. Those are the two sports I would recommend for a young athlete. I think soccer and basketball will be the most popular sports in this country eventually. They're the two games that seem to have the most global appeal around the world. Soccer is already the most popular sport in the world and basketball is becoming a global game. Soccer is really starting to gain traction in this country. With improved access on TV and the internet, more and more people are starting follow the biggest players and leagues. I think that will siphon an increasingly large number of athletes away from football.

I think baseball is trending downwards and that football will likely follow it.

Fyi, concussions are a huge deal in soccer too.
and hockey and lacrosse

The doomsday theorists are always out there, whether it's climate change, the economy, or the death of football. At the end of the day, we're going to have warm sunny summers, cold blustery winters, the economy will peak and tank and peak again...and tank again...and through it all, we'll still have football to talk about too. This is much ado about nothing, but it does seem to be en vogue to to write about the death of football these days.

Yea, and 50 years ago baseball was the national past time. Things change.

Basketball has grown tremendously in the past thirty years. Soccer seems poised to potentially do the same.

There is no action is soccer. It is fun to play but to watch is a bore. That is why baseball is on the fall. Kids these days want fast paced high energy sports. Look at what is on the rise..football, basketball, ufc; where there is action. hockey suffers, baseball suffers, I just dont see a game where it seems every game ends with a 2-0 score is going to be exciting enough for kids these days.

From my experience, most of the people who say this haven't actually sat down and watched elite level club soccer matches. Sure, there are some boring games from time to time (like any sport), but it's pretty entertaining and the time passes quickly.

I dare you to watch this game and then say there's no action in soccer:

:)

I've played for 40+ years. It's a great sport to play, but it is boring to watch. I'll watch the World Cup, but that's about it. It will never surpass football in the US as a spectator sport.
I'll take that bet. It is already the most watched sport in the world. No reason to think it won't eventually conquer the US.

Eighty years ago no one would've thought football would become more popular than baseball.

The world doesn't have football. I'd bet that football grows faster in England than soccer does in the US (as spectators, not participants). Playing soccer as a youth doesn't translate to watching soccer as an adult.

Soccer leagues have been failing since the 70's. It's not going to change.

ETA: Cricket is the 2nd most popular sport in the world. Do you think it will eventually conquer football in the US as well?

Edited by Hoosier16
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Football will never be big anywhere besides the USA. Talk to any foreigner. They find the game strange. Nevermind the health issues. Playing soccer as a youth hasn't translated to watching it as an adult because the USA hasn't had televised access to elite soccer until recently. Fifteen years ago it was very difficult to find major European matches on TV in the USA. All you could get were crappy MLS matches. Now you can get tons of elite level games. Some of the really big matches are even broadcast on Fox. The upward trend is pretty evident.

U.S. TV Ratings For Champions League Final Skyrocketby Ryan Rosenblatt • Jun 2, 2011 7:49 PM EDTWith two of the world's biggest clubs, Barcelona and Manchester United, in this year's UEFA Champions League final, there was no doubt that there would be greater interest in the match than the previous year's final. Just how much more interest there was in the United States might have been a surprise though as the match became the highest rated and most-watched Champions League broadcast in U.S. history. FOX and FOX Deportes telecasts of the match in the U.S. drew 4.2 million viewers, almost double the viewership of last year's final between Inter Milan and Bayern Munich.Star-divideIn English-language broadcast, the Champions League final has seen its audience increase by almost 1,000% in the past decade. The 2002 final was watched by only 264,000 Americans, while 2.6 million watched Saturday's English broadcast. That has undoubtedly been helped by the final being shown on network television and on a Saturday, as opposed to a Wednesday, but the growth is impressive nonetheless.One area that is also impressive is the viewership among young males, an attractive demographic for advertisers. Most sporting events don't rate as well with younger people, but the final earned a 1.8 rating among males ages 18-34, 29% higher than the HH rating.While the jump in ratings shows phenomenal growth and is very encouraging, a 2.1 rating and six share is not a mind-blowing number when compared to other major sporting events. Soccer is still playing catch-up in the United States and when it comes to the Champions League, FOX will be at the heart of that attempt to make up ground because they have the U.S. television rights to the tournament through 2015.

Interest is growing. The audience is growing. It's all about access. This generation of American kids can watch world class players with the click of a mouse. It wasn't like that when I grew up. If I had seen stuff like this as a kid, I might have picked a different sport:http://youtu.be/N_J-XvzCm2g?t=41s
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Football will never be big anywhere besides the USA. Talk to any foreigner. They find the game strange. Nevermind the health issues. Playing soccer as a youth hasn't translated to watching it as an adult because the USA hasn't had televised access to elite soccer until recently. Fifteen years ago it was very difficult to find major European matches on TV in the USA. All you could get were crappy MLS matches. Now you can get tons of elite level games. Some of the really big matches are even broadcast on Fox. The upward trend is pretty evident.

U.S. TV Ratings For Champions League Final Skyrocketby Ryan Rosenblatt • Jun 2, 2011 7:49 PM EDTWith two of the world's biggest clubs, Barcelona and Manchester United, in this year's UEFA Champions League final, there was no doubt that there would be greater interest in the match than the previous year's final. Just how much more interest there was in the United States might have been a surprise though as the match became the highest rated and most-watched Champions League broadcast in U.S. history. FOX and FOX Deportes telecasts of the match in the U.S. drew 4.2 million viewers, almost double the viewership of last year's final between Inter Milan and Bayern Munich.Star-divideIn English-language broadcast, the Champions League final has seen its audience increase by almost 1,000% in the past decade. The 2002 final was watched by only 264,000 Americans, while 2.6 million watched Saturday's English broadcast. That has undoubtedly been helped by the final being shown on network television and on a Saturday, as opposed to a Wednesday, but the growth is impressive nonetheless.One area that is also impressive is the viewership among young males, an attractive demographic for advertisers. Most sporting events don't rate as well with younger people, but the final earned a 1.8 rating among males ages 18-34, 29% higher than the HH rating.While the jump in ratings shows phenomenal growth and is very encouraging, a 2.1 rating and six share is not a mind-blowing number when compared to other major sporting events. Soccer is still playing catch-up in the United States and when it comes to the Champions League, FOX will be at the heart of that attempt to make up ground because they have the U.S. television rights to the tournament through 2015.

Interest is growing. The audience is growing. It's all about access. This generation of American kids can watch world class players with the click of a mouse. It wasn't like that when I grew up. If I had seen stuff like this as a kid, I might have picked a different sport:http://youtu.be/N_J-XvzCm2g?t=41s
Soccerheads are really invested in this belief...that it's just an exposure issue. But, part of the reason there is limited exposure is the vast majority of people in America can't...stand...the sport. It's not that they're neutral to it or that they never heard of it or that they haven't seen a 0-0 tie before...it's that they absolutely hate it.For good reason. It's a colossal bore. Put it on ESPN, NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX. Go ahead. Do it for the next 10 years. In droves, people will continue to not care.Soccer is not taking over football in the US. Let's move on to a more realistic scenario, like colonizing Jupiter.
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Soccer leagues have been failing since the 70's. It's not going to change.ETA: Cricket is the 2nd most popular sport in the world. Do you think it will eventually conquer football in the US as well?

Cricket is not popular everywhere. It's an idiosyncratic game like baseball, rugby, or American football that fails to travel well. The reason it has large audiences is because the nation where it is most popular (India) is huge and populous (much like American football in the USA). Soccer has a demonstrated ability to infect new markets. Just look at South America and Africa. It's already huge there. It is also huge in Mexico. The interest is creeping north. You talked about failed leagues. How about a successful one? MLS improves every year in terms of quality and interest. League attendance has improved steadily over the past decade. Average crowd for an MLS game:2001 - 14,9612011 - 17,844TV ratings for the sport are up almost across the board. This is just one example:

The 2010 Men’s World Cup drew the most US viewers ever for the tournament. ESPN announced that broadcasts averaged a 2.1 rating (2.29 million households and 3.26 million viewers), a 31 percent increase over 2006. The final between the Netherlands and Spain was the most-watched men’s World Cup game by viewers (15.55 million).

MLS just signed a new TV deal with NBC that will see several games broadcast on national TV each year. The trend is pretty plain to see.
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Soccerheads are really invested in this belief...that it's just an exposure issue. But, part of the reason there is limited exposure is the vast majority of people in America can't...stand...the sport. It's not that they're neutral to it or that they never heard of it or that they haven't seen a 0-0 tie before...it's that they absolutely hate it.For good reason. It's a colossal bore. Put it on ESPN, NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX. Go ahead. Do it for the next 10 years. In droves, people will continue to not care.Soccer is not taking over football in the US. Let's move on to a more realistic scenario, like colonizing Jupiter.

I used to believe all this.Then I actually started watching the games. Most of the people who say soccer is boring have never really bothered to watch the best teams or leagues.
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The premise of this article assumes that there will be no action taken to reduce the concussion rate. We are already seeing the NFL take big steps towards addressing the problem with rule changes and using words like "defenseless" to change the manner in which the game is played. Like it or not, these rules are necessary to keep the game vital.

Second there will be advances in equipment to help address this issue. Helmets will be improved to better absorb shock. Finally, coaches will stop coaching to "lead with your head" techniques in regards to blocking and tackling .

All over this will permeate down to the college and high school levels.

More than anything else over-saturation of the product will cause a decline in popularity.

The technology exists (ProCap) but the NFL lacks the will to require them.
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Soccerheads are really invested in this belief...that it's just an exposure issue. But, part of the reason there is limited exposure is the vast majority of people in America can't...stand...the sport. It's not that they're neutral to it or that they never heard of it or that they haven't seen a 0-0 tie before...it's that they absolutely hate it.For good reason. It's a colossal bore. Put it on ESPN, NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX. Go ahead. Do it for the next 10 years. In droves, people will continue to not care.Soccer is not taking over football in the US. Let's move on to a more realistic scenario, like colonizing Jupiter.

I used to believe all this.Then I actually started watching the games. Most of the people who say soccer is boring have never really bothered to watch the best teams or leagues.
For Americans used to watching sports with 'plays' it's easy to find soccer boring since it's a very different style of game. Soccer can be very exciting but there's little anticipation (i.e. a red zone) of the relatively rare scoring.
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Football will never be big anywhere besides the USA. Talk to any foreigner. They find the game strange. Nevermind the health issues.

The NFL is pretty popular in Australia.
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Football will never be big anywhere besides the USA. Talk to any foreigner. They find the game strange. Nevermind the health issues.

The NFL is pretty popular in Australia.
Canada too.
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Things change. It's not written anywhere in the constitution that soccer rules can't be tweaked to make it more interesting. If we did that to make it more palatable to American tastes and the rest of the world doesn't want to come along for the ride, well, we're used to that already.

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For Americans used to watching sports with 'plays' it's easy to find soccer boring since it's a very different style of game. Soccer can be very exciting but there's little anticipation (i.e. a red zone) of the relatively rare scoring.

I think part of what makes the sport engaging is that it's a constant tug-of-war in which a goal can be scored at any moment. The good teams tend to hold the ball in the other team's half and threaten the goal constantly. There's no "red zone" but there is a penalty box. Anything can happen when the ball is in that area.
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Neither basketball nor soccer have zero chance, none at all, to supplant football in your lifetime. Or your kids' lifetime. Sorry.

100% accurate.Elite club matches, college level, high school it doesn't matter....soccer is mind numbing at it's best.
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Neither basketball nor soccer have zero chance, none at all, to supplant football in your lifetime. Or your kids' lifetime. Sorry.

100% accurate.Elite club matches, college level, high school it doesn't matter....soccer is mind numbing at it's best.
The rest of the world disagrees with you.http://arizona.sbnation.com/2011/5/28/2194894/2011-uefa-champions-league-final-tv-ratingsI'd be willing to bet that most of the "soccer = boring" crowd hasn't watched more than a handful of top level games in their lives. I am not saying it is the most entertaining sport in the world, but if you're a sports fan you will probably enjoy watching the best teams play. MLS and the USA national team are somewhat boring because that is a low level of competition (like Arena Football or the CFL). All sports are less exciting when you're watching weak players with limited skill. If you watch an Arsenal vs. Tottenham match and you still think it's boring...well you might want to check your pulse.
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Soccerheads are really invested in this belief...that it's just an exposure issue. But, part of the reason there is limited exposure is the vast majority of people in America can't...stand...the sport. It's not that they're neutral to it or that they never heard of it or that they haven't seen a 0-0 tie before...it's that they absolutely hate it.For good reason. It's a colossal bore. Put it on ESPN, NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX. Go ahead. Do it for the next 10 years. In droves, people will continue to not care.Soccer is not taking over football in the US. Let's move on to a more realistic scenario, like colonizing Jupiter.

I used to believe all this.Then I actually started watching the games. Most of the people who say soccer is boring have never really bothered to watch the best teams or leagues.
And if they did, more than likely, they wouldn't care. Culturally, Americans will not embrace the sport. Not on the level soccerheads hope we eventually will. Sure, you'll have a couple million...about 1%...who might bother. Trending nicely, perhaps. But, let's not kid ourselves and misrepresent the issue here. Hell, far more people will watch the NHL Winter Classic over Barcelona v. Manchester United. About 6 million more people would rather tune in to the Coca Cola 600 than watch the two best soccer teams run around for a cople hours.
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Neither basketball nor soccer have zero chance, none at all, to supplant football in your lifetime. Or your kids' lifetime. Sorry.

100% accurate.Elite club matches, college level, high school it doesn't matter....soccer is mind numbing at it's best.
The rest of the world disagrees with you.
We're not talking about the rest of the world. Soccer is an anathema in the vast majority of this country. It doesn't represent the 99%-ers.
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And if they did, more than likely, they wouldn't care. Culturally, Americans will not embrace the sport.

I guess that's where we disagree. Soccer is hugely popular in several nations that have similar cultures to the USA (Germany, England, Netherlands). It's popular almost everywhere. I would argue that most of the anti-soccer stuff is pure ignorance. I used to be the same way. I had a friend who liked the sport growing up and I gave him an endless stream of #### for it. Thing is, I had never watched great soccer teams play. If you haven't watched the best leagues and the best players, you don't really have a point of reference to engage in serious conversations about the sport. And frankly, most NFL/NCAA football fans don't have a clue about world soccer. So yea, it's boring...if you don't have a clue about the sport, if you've never watched the best leagues, and if your soccer watching experience is limited to MLS and the USA national team (which are the soccer equivalent of the CFL).
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Neither basketball nor soccer have zero chance, none at all, to supplant football in your lifetime. Or your kids' lifetime. Sorry.

100% accurate.Elite club matches, college level, high school it doesn't matter....soccer is mind numbing at it's best.
The rest of the world disagrees with you.
Since the discussion is about whether soccer will rise to the level of popularity that the NFL currently holds here in America....I'm fine representing the predominantly American take on soccer.It's simply an awful sport to watch on television.
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And if they did, more than likely, they wouldn't care. Culturally, Americans will not embrace the sport.

I guess that's where we disagree. Soccer is hugely popular in several nations that have similar cultures to the USA (Germany, England, Netherlands). It's popular almost everywhere. I would argue that most of the anti-soccer stuff is pure ignorance. I used to be the same way. I had a friend who liked the sport growing up and I gave him an endless stream of #### for it. Thing is, I had never watched great soccer teams play. If you haven't watched the best leagues and the best players, you don't really have a point of reference to engage in serious conversations about the sport. And frankly, most NFL/NCAA football fans don't have a clue about world soccer. So yea, it's boring...if you don't have a clue about the sport, if you've never watched the best leagues, and if your soccer watching experience is limited to MLS and the USA national team (which are the soccer equivalent of the CFL).
Ok, but I have watched the best in soccer play, and it's putrid. If you feel better posturing as though it's an enlightenment issue, go ahead, I don't think anyone cares. Soccer fans have been pulling this crap for years.
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Ok, but I have watched the best in soccer play, and it's putrid. If you feel better posturing as though it's an enlightenment issue, go ahead, I don't think anyone cares. Soccer fans have been pulling this crap for years.

Everyone's entitled to an opinion. Just realize that all of the objective factors contradict your stance.- The sport is beloved across the world.- The USA's domestic league is improving.- Television ratings in the USA are improving. None of this means the MLS will overtake the NFL tomorrow, but the "soccer = boring" stuff is the same kind of stubborn close-mindedness that probably would've lead people to say eighty years ago that nobody would ever skip a baseball game to watch some strange sport called "basketball." Things change. Quickly. It wasn't long ago that MLB ruled America. It wasn't long ago that the NFL was barely a blip on the radar. It wasn't long ago that the NBA was a total joke. Why people think these fleeting institutions are set in cement is beyond me.
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It's simply an awful sport to watch on television.

Which is an opinion founded on ignorance caused by a lack of exposure.
WTH man..you going to tell me I'm ignorant because I like chocolate ice cream and not vanilla too?Your comment is simple sterotypical arrogance.I can just as easily argue that your enjoyment is founded on your culture biases or maybe your own inability to participate in other sports capably. But, that would be almost as asinine as your comment so I won't.A lack of understanding doesn't drive my perception of soccer, it's just not entertaining to me...but that's just me. You just go on enjoying the hell right out of it Edited by treat88
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There's a difference between saying "it's boring to me" and "it's simply an awful sport to watch on television."

I don't have any problem with anyone saying they don't like soccer because they don't find it entertaining. Just realize that the majority of the human race doesn't share that opinion of the sport. If people from Brazil, Germany, Turkey, Ivory Coast, Mexico, and Korea are rabid about the sport, why can't the same thing happen in America? Is there something fundamentally different about Americans? I don't think so.

My argument is pretty simple. Soccer is an entertaining sport with a demonstrated ability to win followers. As more Americans are exposed to high level soccer, the sport's popularity will grow. The objective evidence seems to suggest that this is exactly what's happening.

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Ok, but I have watched the best in soccer play, and it's putrid. If you feel better posturing as though it's an enlightenment issue, go ahead, I don't think anyone cares. Soccer fans have been pulling this crap for years.

Everyone's entitled to an opinion. Just realize that all of the objective factors contradict your stance.- The sport is beloved across the world.- The USA's domestic league is improving.- Television ratings in the USA are improving. None of this means the MLS will overtake the NFL tomorrow, but the "soccer = boring" stuff is the same kind of stubborn close-mindedness that probably would've lead people to say eighty years ago that nobody would ever skip a baseball game to watch some strange sport called "basketball." Things change. Quickly. It wasn't long ago that MLB ruled America. It wasn't long ago that the NFL was barely a blip on the radar. It wasn't long ago that the NBA was a total joke. Why people think these fleeting institutions are set in cement is beyond me.
And this is where you FAIL. Nothing contradicts (nor can it contradict) my aesthetic interests or "stance.". You'll do a lot better prosthelitizing on your Arsenal messageboard. I'm sure you can get those 10 people all fired up about a sport that's hobbling alon in the US, eking out the LPGA in fan interest.
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I used to hate soccer, but then I had to cover it for several years for my job, and once I learned more about the game, I was able to appreciate it much more. Now, I still don't sit around and watch much, but I do tune in to the World Cup - men and women's. And if it did start to become more popular, I could see getting into it. I mean, you watch those games over in Europe and South America and people are going crazy. Looks like fun to me.

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Things change. It's not written anywhere in the constitution that soccer rules can't be tweaked to make it more interesting. If we did that to make it more palatable to American tastes and the rest of the world doesn't want to come along for the ride, well, we're used to that already.

Getting rid of offsides would be a great start.
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There's a difference between saying "it's boring to me" and "it's simply an awful sport to watch on television." I don't have any problem with anyone saying they don't like soccer because they don't find it entertaining. Just realize that the majority of the human race doesn't share that opinion of the sport. If people from Brazil, Germany, Turkey, Ivory Coast, Mexico, and Korea are rabid about the sport, why can't the same thing happen in America? Is there something fundamentally different about Americans? I don't think so. My argument is pretty simple. Soccer is an entertaining sport with a demonstrated ability to win followers. As more Americans are exposed to high level soccer, the sport's popularity will grow. The objective evidence seems to suggest that this is exactly what's happening.

Or, you could apply your argument in the opposite direction. As more and more foreigners are exposed to american football, they will choose to watch it over soccer. We have been exposed to both and the majority of us have chosen to watch football over soccer. Also baseball, basketball, golf, figure skating, and stupid sitcoms. Probably not hockey though.
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I used to hate soccer, but then I had to cover it for several years for my job, and once I learned more about the game, I was able to appreciate it much more. Now, I still don't sit around and watch much, but I do tune in to the World Cup - men and women's. And if it did start to become more popular, I could see getting into it. I mean, you watch those games over in Europe and South America and people are going crazy. Looks like fun to me.

Watching the World Cup is like watching the Olympics. Everyone loves watching swimming, gymnastics, skiing, and track during the Olympics. Nobody is going to watch those sports on a weekly basis.
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