Once upon a time, Major League Baseball was Americas favorite pastime. Today, the National Football League has a stranglehold on that distinction. However, according to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, not for long.
The NBA, not the NFL, is Americas league of the future, he told a reporter from The Guardian during the most recent of a series of stories quoting the NBA legend.
Lets be clear, even with everything thats going on today with the NFL; the protesting by players, revelations of their historic coverup on CTE, their handling of punishing players accused of committing serious crimes, their apparent role in players becoming addicted to opioids, the National Football League is kicking the snot out of the National Basketball Association.
20.4 million viewers for the 2016 NBA Finals? Hmmm, those are fierce numbers. A 20-year record, in fact. But they’re Lilliputian compared to the NFLs 111 million viewers for Super Bowl LI.
But, as the old Tracy Chapman song says, times are a-changin. Lets suppose for a moment that polls can be taken on face value. If so, then the NFLs viewership decreased ten percent since 2012. Thats steep, and league officials are right to be worried with everything thats going on socio-politically today.
By comparison, baseball lost three percent of its fans over the same span. The NBA? Oh, they just gained three percent over the same time frame.
Additionally, kids like football far less than they used to. Summertime sandlot scrimmages of yesteryear have largely been replaced by shooting hoops. Basketball is popular among both girls and boys. Football is the third most popular sport among kids, according to ESPN. The same data also show kids between ages 5 and 15 are half as likely to be injured playing basketball than football.
To me, its really kind of a no-brainer. The NFL is violent and dangerous by nature. The league is unfortunately situated in history as a facsimile to slavery in the opinion of many. In addition, they dont know what they dont know, but everything about football is of a bygone era; racist logos and offensive team names being the most obvious.
Throw in their ham-handed and reactionary strategy toward handling every single crisis that comes along, we see it is ruled almost exclusively by older, filthy rich white dudes, and with the league being nearly 70 percent black, the plantation connection rears its ugly head yet again. They lag on everything, including transparency and truthfulness regarding health concerns for players.
The black players bare the brunt of these injuries. Meanwhile, the National Basketball Association at least has one black owner in Michael Jordan, has globalized its brand, allows players to voice their opinions to a far greater extent that most pro team sports, and, aside from the blackballing of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and Craig Hodges, has thus far avoided waves and waves of accusations and scandals that are wracking television, film, sports and media.
The NFL, on the other hand, cant seemed to get on the positive side of social evolution to save their lives. Additionally, the NFL fumbled the handling of Colin Kaepernick and the NFL protests, and now face a collusion lawsuit from Kap that could get gorilla cookie ugly.
Thanks to Michael Jordan and the Dream Team of 1992, basketball began to encroach upon soccer as the worlds favorite team sportwith the NBA being the preferred league to watch. Itll be a slow-drip demise for the NFL. Indeed, they’ll go out, not with a bang, but a whimper.
Meanwhile, the NBA gets more and more diverse with every draft, with African American and women ownership being a reality. The NBA is already light years ahead of the NFL in the social context. Its only a matter of time before the NBAs viewership numbers overtake the NFL.