Justin Timberlake, star of the 2018 NFL Super Bowl halftime show, said he would never let his son play football.
While Timberlake may have said so in jest, he is not the only parent wary of letting his son get involved in the sport. Youth tackle football is on the decline in the U.S., likely due to a flurry of studies that found football was closely linked to CTE, a neurodegenerative disease. This correlation was not limited to those in the NFL; research also demonstrated that playing tackle football before age 12 was linked to cognitive and behavioral problems later. The NFL, on a mission to keep the sport alive, recently invested $45 million in USA Football.
But who will the NFL keep in the game?
More and more sports are becoming inaccessible to kids from low-income households. Aspen’s Sports & Society program released research that concluded, “All that matters is if kids come from a family that has resources. If you don’t have money, it’s hard to play.”
Youth sports have become a lucrative industry in the U.S. — transforming sports like soccer from accessible-to-all to limited-to-some. Participating in an elite sports club is almost a necessity to winning a college scholarship.