Two studies reviewed by the New York Times show that a potential decrease in participation in and the popularity of football is occurring along political ideological lines.
The Times first cites data about the decline of the number of boys playing high school football from the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations. The figures show that boys are deciding not to play football in blue states, specifically "the highly educated Democratic-leaning areas of major metropolitan areas," at a higher rate than in comparatively more conservative areas.
According to the Times' analysis, the number of football-playing boys has fallen by 15 percent in Minnesota and Wisconsin, 14 percent in Colorado and eight percent in Massachusetts and Maryland, all of which voted for Barack Obama, a Democrat, in the last two presidental elections and rank among the country's more educated states.
Additionally, a poll conducted by the RAND Corporation for the Times showed that just 55 percent of respondents would be comfortable with their sons playing football, compared to 90-plus percent for baseball, basketball, soccer and track, and that the negative football response was accentuated for college graduate-Democratic voters. Just 32 percent of respondents who have a bachelor's degree and that voted for President Obama in 2012 said they'd be comfortable with their son playing football.
The safety of football as a sport has increasingly become a topic of interest in recent years as medical research and public awareness, particularly about head injuries, has become more widespread. At least five high school football players have died during practices or games this year.
The NFL has faced multiple lawsuits about its concussion policy and other safety issues. Last week, the league requested that a judge throw out a lawsuit claiming that doctors jeopardized players' health by giving them painkillers to keep them on the field.
- Ben Estes