I get asked this question probably once a week. For those people reading my blog for the first time, I have three boys, 5, 2 1/2, and 1 respectively. I live in Mobile, Alabama which is a state that is home to the last three National Champions in college football ('09 Bama, '10 Auburn, '11 Bama). Suffice it to say, it is a football crazy state. The most popular radio show in the state is the Paul Finebaum show which is basically a radio version of the Jerry Springer show where the host pits one fan base against the other and basically sits back and watches the fan bases make verbal jabs at each other through the air waves. It’s a radio train wreck, and unfortunately in Alabama most people sit and listen.
In the south, college football is basically a religion. People plan their weekends in the fall around college football Saturdays. If you think I’m kidding, if you are a young bride to be that lives in Louisiana or Alabama, try planning a wedding on the weekend of the LSU/Alabama football game and see how many family members show up. If a future bride even tried to schedule her wedding during this weekend, it is probably a coin flip if her dad would show up to walk her down the aisle. Hell the groom would probably have to be talked into it. Even if the wedding did happen on this weekend, if the reception did not have at least three televisions with the game on the bridal party should not even waste money on a band or food. No one will be there to eat it. This may sound weird to some, but in the Deep South, the usual response when a wedding is poorly attended during a football weekend is very simple, "She should have looked a calendar before she scheduled the wedding".
This brings me to the question of my blog that I get asked weekly. Am I going to let my kids play football? The answer is a definitive, maybe. The more and more I learn about brain injuries and ex-NFL players, the more I start focusing on my kids watching soccer and baseball. Even admitting this concern is sacrilege in the deep south, but the more times I get asked this question, the more and more "Southern" dads I am finding that admit that they would be more than happy if their kid doesn't play football. My first thought when hearing a fellow dad admit that he may not want his kid to play football is the realization that in areas of the country that are not football crazy, the idea of children not playing football must be spreading through the communities like Starbucks in the 90's.
I expect over the next few years we will see more and more class action lawsuits against the NFL, Arena leagues, and the NCAA. I also fully expect that as a result of these lawsuits professional and college football will be safer in 10 years than it is today. I expect that there will be changes forced on the NFL that will make brain injuries less prevalent and hopefully non-existent. These changes will only come as a result of legal pressure that lawyers will exert on the NFL, and just like the trial lawyers that pressured the auto industry and drug manufacturers into making safer cars and drugs, I expect the lawyers that represent the former players will be drug through the mud as being lawyers hell bent on destroying football. Hopefully true football fans will realize that the lawyers filing these claims are the individuals that will be credited with actually saving professional football from becoming irrelevant.