America's Favorite Sport in a PR Crisis
America loves football – everyone knows that. But it’s beginning to look like the sport itself is in crisis and does not reciprocate these feelings.
A growing body of evidence is beginning to show that football players are prone to concussions and thus prone to degenerative brain disease later on in life. These diseases (CTE being the most common) may lead to a shorter life span for athletes. (Does anyone else smell irony in the air?) And now that ex-players are getting clued in to all of this, lawsuits are popping up right and left against the NFL. Additionally, these new health concerns are creating a rise in parental disapproval of the sport. According to Bloomberg, 50 percent of American parents say they don’t want their son(s) to play football and another 17 percent are making bets that football’s popularity will only last another 20 years.
Don’t get me wrong, we still watch football incessantly and buy copious amounts of our favorite teams’ merch, so technically the industry is doing just fine. But the NFL may well be losing some of its profit to health compensation. What’s tricky is that concussion-caused brain diseases can only be diagnosed postmortem. So essentially the players themselves will not receive any compensation – only their surviving family members will. Any way you slice it, controversy abounds and the NFL is in need of one heck of a crisis plan.
But will a crisis plan solve anything? When you look at the facts, it’s not the NFL that’s causing athletes to suffer from neurological damage – it’s the sport itself. It’s the very nature of the body-slamming, helmet-smashing, bone-breaking game that we have always loved. So who, truly, is to blame? And what does this mean for the future of American culture? Can PR professionals remedy a predicament like this? Only time will tell.