Football may be king in terms of sporting popularity in the United States currently, but a recent poll suggests that participation could wane in the coming years.
According to Annie Linskey of Bloomberg, 50 percent of the 1,001 American adults polled in a survey from Dec. 3-5 said they would not want their sons to play competitive football.
Here is a look at a graph representing the poll, courtesy of Bloomberg Politics on Twitter:
The likeliest reason behind the apprehension is the notion that football is a dangerous sport. That has been bolstered in recent months by the tragic deaths of several high school players.
Sixteen-year-old Tom Cutinella of Shoreham-Wading River High School in Shoreham, New York, suffered a fatal head injury in October. Per CNN.com's Marina Carver, there didn't initially appear to be anything dangerous about the play that caused his untimely death.
"It was the result of a typical football play," Superintendent Steven Cohen said. "It was just a freak accident."
The fact that a "typical" action in a football game can lead to such an unspeakable tragedy is undoubtedly a strike against the sport in the eyes of parents. As Carver points out, Cutinella was the third high school football player to die in a week's time.
According to The American Journal of Sports Medicine, an average of more than 12 high school and college football players died from on-field injuries per year from 1990 through 2010.
Erik Brady of USA Today recently cited a report from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina which found 13 players to have died in the last two years (eight last year, five this year) directly from high school football.
Founding director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center, Kevin Guskiewicz, speculates that the risk is highest at the high school level due to a lack of proper equipment.
"Some of the brain-related deaths are due to helmets that aren't certified or effective, and that's much more likely to happen at the high school than college level," Guskiewicz told Brady.
Whatever the case, it almost seems as though there is no avoiding the tragic reality that football-related deaths will happen among young players.
With those statistics in mind, perhaps it shouldn't come as a major shock that so many American adults have soured on the idea of their children performing on the gridiron.
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