Football: America’s New National Pastime

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Football: America’s New National Pastime

A lone helmet lies on the field while the game is in action.

A lone helmet lies on the field while the game is in action.

Photo Credit: Jared Thomas

A lone helmet lies on the field while the game is in action.

Photo Credit: Jared Thomas

Photo Credit: Jared Thomas

A lone helmet lies on the field while the game is in action.

Jared Thomas, Copy Editor

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The ball is snapped. The quarterback hands off the ball to the running back as he dashes down the left sideline. The defending player chases and tackles him to the ground, ending the play with the referee’s whistle and a new play coming up. The fans cheer; the players yell; the coaches prep; and the players focus on their next move. While American Football has grown in popularity, what has made football become the most popular sport in america, and one of the most popular sports in the world?

Many reasons exist for their growth, including the increasingly large trend of athletes receiving more and more money to play (from both teams and sponsorships), the new gear and merchandise they sell and use and the chance at their popularity growing exponentially. This type of growth exists at all levels of football. From pee-wee, to high school, and from collegiate to the pros, every football player dreams of making it to a big game at any of these levels. 

According to the New York Post, Super Bowl 53, which was played back on January 28, has been the most viewed sporting event in the US this year, with over 98 million American television viewers watching the big game. This meant one thing to the New England Patriots front office and players: a lot of money was coming their way. For the winners of the Super Bowl, each player received $201,000 (CNBC) for their play. The Los Angeles Rams didn’t go empty handed either; the losing team’s players received $59,000 (CNBC) for their play. While this may seem like a fraction to some athletes and staff members, rookies and new members to the team can see this as a dream come true. 

While pro athletes get paid major money for their play, high school and collegiate athletes don’t receive any money or support for their play. Besides scholarships and other ways of academic funding, players at these levels don’t receive direct financial support from their sport of choice. 

While this may turn some athletes away from playing for their whole lives, many take the chance to try and achieve that dream.

Photo Credit: Jared Thomas
Members of the Fighting Knights Varsity Football team wait for the next play, hoping to hear their number called to take the field.

“I have grown up watching it, and I made sure as soon as I was old enough to play football, to join. I’ve  always loved it,” quarterback Cole Fuller, junior, explained. Even with the possibility of injuries and not attaining success, Fuller said, “I don’t think about injuries. Things just happen. When you start thinking about getting hurt, that’s when you get hurt.”

While many of his teammates will agree with what he said, parents, doctors and health specialists might be saying something different about the sport they love. 

While football has seen an increase in participation during the early 2000’s, and is popular with the fans and sponsorships, participation has dropped in the last five years because of the chance for major injuries, including the massive increase in concussions and the possibility of developing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, according to Concussion Legacy Foundation.

While there are now many cases of CTE occurring in former players, the percentage rate in players who will develop CTE will go up, but with new research and better understanding of the disease, rates will decrease in the future.

Nevertheless, player involvement and participation nationwide will continue to grow during the next decade, as more money will be offered, more sponsorships will be given, and more attention will be given to football players of all levels.