Saturday, February 11, 2012

What if football disappeared?

Tyler Cowen is an economist and publisher of the blog Marginal Revolution (tag line: "small steps to a much better world.") I read and follow Cowen not just because of his economics-driven insights and analysis, but also because he'll apply his thinking to surprising areas.

(Oh, and he's got excellent taste in food.)

Cowen (with co-writer Kevin Grier) regularly apply their thinking to sports at Grantland. In their most recent installment, Cowen & Grier propose a future where (American) football falls out of favor. (Hint: economic productivity might skyrocket.)

It's an intriguing thought, and jibes with what I've been wondering for years - who in the world would ever encourage their kid to play at a high level a sport notorious for intense and permanent physical and mental damage?

(Never mind that playing at that high level likely requires adopting a freakish physique and adopting a violent mindset where to be your best you have to accept maximum physical risk and celebrate imposing maximum physical violence on your opponent.)

Growing up, my parents forbade me from playing tackle football for all of these reasons. I didn't see the wisdom at the time, but seeing the toll that football can take on your head, heart, or joints really makes me appreciate my parents' decision. Seeing how violence on the football field has increased since my youth makes me wonder who would encourage playing the sport.

Strangely, though, I am a football fan and hold season tickets for my local team. My fanhood, though, has probably more to do with deep-seated allegiances (school, hometown).

I share Cowen and Grier's wonder at how long football may stay on top of fan interest. We already regularly see players permanently paralyzed during games, yet football popularity has never been higher. Will it take an on-field death to change opinion?

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With my new friends on the Great Wall of China

With my new friends on the Great Wall of China
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World sun clock

Uncommon Man's Creed

"I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon -- if I can. I seek opportunity -- not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I wish to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole, I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence, nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master, nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud, and unafraid, to think and act for myself, to enjoy the benefit of my creations, and to face the world boldly and say, "this I have done." All this is what it means to be an American." -- Anonymous