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06 June 2016

Should I Be a Football Fan?

As I am trying to enjoy baseball season, I return to a debate about another sport, football. When my wife and I got pregnant with our first child nearly three years ago, we both agreed that our children would not be allowed to play football. It turns out that we're part of a growing number of Americans with that opinion:
Nearly one-third (31%) of Americans say that if they had a young son today they would not allow him to play football, while about two-thirds (66%) say that they would. The number of Americans who would prohibit their child from playing has increased since 2015, when only 22% said they would not allow their son to play (source).
That first child ended up being a girl so the likelihood of that becoming an issue is pretty small, but if we decide to have another child, and he's a boy, we might have to address it head on.

I am also troubled by the ethical extension of that, though. Is it OK for me to be entertained by others' sons playing football? Slate has a very sociological take on this that I'll close with:
The horror at the heart of the future of football—one that’s already begun to reveal itself, and will only continue to—is that for as long as the sport’s popularity endures against the harsh light of what we’re coming to learn about it, the NFL will increasingly come to rely on a starkly class-based labor force. Football will be something that poor kids will play but rich kids won’t, because their parents won’t let them, even as the rich kids and their parents will continue to watch.

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