Despite an onslaught of negative news linking football to head injuries and concussions, the American public remains strongly opposed to major rule changes that would reduce the violence of the game, according to a new survey.
In a national survey conducted by Passions in America, more than two-thirds of the public, or 69 percent, oppose eliminating punts and kickoffs and 68 percent reject the concept of converting the professional sport to “flag football” that’s typically played in amateur and intramural leagues.
Dan McGinn, Passions in America co-founder and national cultural trend expert, said these types of findings offer greater insight into who Americans are as people.
“This survey shows that the broader ‘anti-regulation’ sentiment in our society extends to sports,” McGinn said. “The American people get it that football is violent. They just don’t think we need more rules or regulations to fix the problem.”
Seventy-one percent of Americans also rejected the idea of eliminating helmets as a way of making players more cautious.
Concerns about violence and injuries, particularly concussions, also appear to have little impact on the NFL’s declining television ratings, according to Passions in America.
Of the 22 percent who report watching fewer NFL broadcasts this season, only seven percent attribute it to a declining interest in concerns over violence.
At the same time, 43 percent of those who planned on tuning the game out said that political issues, such as players kneeling during the national anthem, are the primary reason, with that number climbing to 66 percent among respondents aged 55 and older.
Nevertheless, 70 percent of respondents planned to watch the Super Bowl.
Support for the game also remains strong among parents and grandparents. By a 59-41 percent margin, parents and grandparents would prefer that their children and grandchildren go out for football rather than play in the school band.
The survey was conducted with 1,003 respondents nationwide, the racial and economic demographics were not made known.
“To me, the biggest surprise of the survey is that it shows, across all age groups, that more football fans were turned off by politics than pain,” said Joe Posnanski, co-founder of Passions in America.