June 5, 2016

WITHER THE NFL?

Count on flower children at NPR to go over the edge with this issue. The problem isn’t the size and strength, and therefore power of professional football players. No, it’s — ready? — the evil game of football itself.

Commentator Frank Deford used to love football, but now he just drops bombs on it. On Wednesday’s Morning Edition on National Public Radio, Deford’s weekly commentary was titled “What Is Football Doing to Us as a People?” He asked on air “So what is football doing to us as a people? How do we explain an America that, alone in the world, so loves this savage sport?”

This is your taxpayer-funded broadcasting in action: Planned Parenthood selling dead baby parts is just a “women’s health” group aiding “medical research,” but the NFL is organized savagery.

Muhammad Ali’s death on Friday at age 74 is a reminder of how boxing declined rapidly after Ali retired from the ring. Not coincidentally, the apogee of Ali’s superstardom coincided with the last gasp of mass media. Ali’s real sparring partner in the 1970s was Howard Cosell, and the two together always guaranteed boffo ratings for ABC, during an era in which there still only three commercial networks, so it was relatively easy for the mature Ali to stay on the tip of the mass American consciousness. Shortly after Ali retired, Cosell, his career at ABC rapidly declining, publicly renounced the sport that had made both men superstars. As Paul Beston wrote at City Journal on “The Ghost Sport,” the history of boxing pre and post-Ali, it was all downhill from there. Over the next few decades, the NFL could see a similar descent as well, especially if more and more parents decide that the sport is too dangerous for their kids, thus starving the college ranks and the NFL of new recruits.

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