As originally aired on The Rochester Press Box
There are ten teams in the National Football League that are unwatchable. And another four are close. Which is just two teams away from being half the NFL. Week Ten kicked off with an inspired Thursday night matchup between the Panthers and Bears. Followed by the Sunday morning thriller between the Colts and Patriots. Those two games produced a total of three touchdowns. Unwatchable.
In college football, Iowa took on Rutgers. The over/under betting line for this one was 27.5. The lowest of the week. The lowest… ever. Breaking the previous mark set just the week before by Iowa and Northwestern. They began tracking the number thirty years ago. Iowa beat Rutgers 22-0. The under paid. Penn State can’t move the ball. Southern Cal can’t stop it. They should only be allowed to play each other. Unwatchable.
What happened to the game we love? Remember the movie Concussion. It starred Will Smith and was part of a wide-ranging debate about the safety of the game of football. We talked about it here. About how the Mom-effect was going to take a toll. Fewer kids would be allowed to play football. The widely viewed Damar Hamlin situation last year only fueled the fire.
Since then, participation has experienced a steady decline. By some figures, as much as twelve percent since 2009. Last year, for the first time since the turn of the century, there were fewer than a million high school football players nationwide. Section Five teams consolidated. Eight schools now play eight-man football. Flag football is gaining in popularity. Other sports, track and field in particular, are on the rise.
So, why is football these days increasingly unwatchable? Inevitable consequence. The chickens have come to roost.