Is the Supply and Demand of Football Decreasing?

By now I’m sure everyone has heard of the controversy brewing around football in the past few years. Head injuries and concussions are in the news more than ever because of the newly discovered lingering effects of the injuries. 

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is the result of excessive head trauma and has been discussed in the news frequently. CTE is a progressive degenerative disease resulting from multiple concussions and/or head injuries. CTE is diagnosed post-mortem and has resulted in former players committing suicide and giving their bodies for CTE research. 

The news about CTE and concussions is adversely affecting the sport of football. The supply and demand of football could be affected in a few ways:

Many former NFL players are filing class action lawsuits against the NFL. If the NFL starts losing judgments it could be facing bankruptcy. Lawsuits may be filed against colleges, the NCAA, and even high school football organizations. If these lawsuits resulted in winning judgments, insurance companies might stop covering colleges and high-schools against football-related injuries. Liability suits could greatly reduce the supply of football.

Another factor that would affect both the supply and demand of football is the risk. Many former players have made statements that they will not let their kids play football. Parents will not allow their children to play a sport with such risks and teenagers and young adults may choose not to play because they realize that risk.

A factor that may affect demand is the implementation of more rules. Football organizations are trying to make the game safer by implementing new rules and regulations to limit some of the contact in football. If rules become too excessive, football could lose the hard-nosed style that made it as popular as it is today.

The supply and demand of football could be experiencing a decline in the near future. 


Dave Tufte said...

Jon gets 100/100.

I think it's the supply of football that may decline. My guess is that the demand will stay high.

What's interesting is that if supply shifts left, that will drive the price higher. If some of that filters back to players, it will actually tend to shift supply back the other way.

Aiden said...

I previously discussed a comment made by Steve Young where he stated that NFL football is inelastic of demand based on the replacement officials at the beginning of the season. I disagreed with that statement and felt that if the officials were allowed to affect the game for too long that an audience would respond with a decrease in demand. I do not think that it would have happened in the first half of the season; rather, after long enough it would eventually show its affects. This topic and analysis is one that I would agree with as well with the exception that I do not believe that the lawsuits will be successful based on the NFL not being held liable for injuries that occurred before the knowledge that we have on the subject today. The rest I believe will increase the concern of many parents with young ones that are interested in football. The drastic increase in concern over every hit that takes place on the football field will, at some point, cause a decrease in participation at the lower levels. I do not believe, however, that it will have an affect on the NFL as there will always be sufficient participants to fill the highest ranks of the game.

Patrick said...

As a fan I have often wondered what the future holds for the game of football. I think it is a very real possibility that demand will drop in the near future.

As the article mentioned, boxing was one of the most popular sports during the first half of the 20th Century. While there are multiple reasons why boxing is no longer as popular as it once was, I think that health concerns is one of the major reasons. I fear that football may have the same fate over the next 10-20 years.

Dave Tufte said...

Aiden 50/50, and Patrick 50/50.

It's interested that this has turned a bit towards boxing. I'm old enough to remember heavyweight boxing's heyday in the 70's, and its resurgence in the 80's.

What caused boxing's declining popularity. A combination of 3 things that football shares. First, boxing had dysfunctional upper management that encouraged fans to not take it seriously. Second, it had Tyson metamorphosing from mere thug to convicted (and perhaps serial) rapist on national TV. Third, it had the 30 year decline in Muhammad Ali's ability to function intelligibly.

Football is clearly flirting with issues comparable to all three of those.

Alexa said...

I agree with Jon that the supply of football may decline. Liability lawsuits can come from many sources. Remember the terrible incident of Pennsylvania State University with Jerry Sandusky. Even with that being said, cities invest millions of dollars into stadiums and arenas so that we can gather by the thousands to watch thier favorite sports team. People love thier sports and are highly invested into them. They purchase coffee mugs, pens, shirts, and jackets with thier favorite team logos on them. Football fans are spending billions on the game. I do not believe that the demand will become less in the next forty years.

Dave Tufte said...

Alexa: the same misspelling repeated twice, so 44/50.

I agree that it seems unlikely because football is such a large business. But, in the big scheme of things, the numbers cited in the source article indicate that it is less that 0.1% of the U.S. economy. We might miss the sport, but the lost cash flow itself will hardly be noticed.

P.S. I'd like to add another violent but popular and lucrative sport that no one said could ever go away ... bullfighting. Further, that was much more ingrained into the culture of Spain (and other countries) that football is to the U.S.

Owen said...

I don't believe the supply of NFL football will decline in my generation, even though there are factors such as these that may cause a decline. The truth of the matter is each year we get a huge group of amazing recruits to the game that refresh the game and make it new and exciting. In fact there are still plenty of major markets in the USA that would like their own professional team. I see it much more likely that the supply will go up and with more supply there will be new people that will demand to watch it.
Trying to compare this to boxing is ridiculous, the reason boxing declined is there was no real star any more, as Dr. Tufte said, you had the greats like Ali, then people got excited about Tyson, unfortunately for Heavy Weight Boxing, Tyson blew it for them and there was no one to continue the excitement. With football there is always someone new to keep it going. When each superstar retires there are already multiple replacement superstars and each crop of new people seem to get better and better, making the game even more exciting to watch.

Tyler said...

I guess for me the question is whether the supply of quality football is decreasing. If so, the demand is sure to follow. There does not seem to be a lack of football programming on the television. However, with all of the professional, collegiate, semi-pro, and even arena offerings available, the quality seems to be decreasing. Whether the players are holding out so they can renegotiate their contracts or they are afraid of getting hurt, it is having a negative impact on my demand for football.

As far as the supply decreasing due to injuries, there have already been several attempts to curb this threat to supply. They have attempted to redesign the protective equipment worn by the players, established new rules regarding contact with other players, and worked with trainers to keep injured players off the field. Unfortunately, it will be a long time before we will know if the new measures are effective in the long term.

Dave Tufte said...

Owen: 50/50

Hmmm Owen. Yes, boxing is lacking in new stars. But, it was lacking in gyms to produce new stars a couple of generations ago. Think about it: they didn't put boxing gyms in old movies because they were romantic, they put them there because they were a common part of city life. That hasn't been the case for a long time, because parents stopped sending their kids to get beat up. All it will take is parents to start doing that, and football will be moribund in a generation.

Tyler has raised an interesting possibility that I'd like to point out. This is, we'll start to know that football is faltering when the edges of that thick variety of football programming start to fail. I'm not sure that is happening yet.

Dave Tufte said...

Tyle: 50/50

Dave Tufte said...

Oops. That should read Tyler.