Tim Tan Huynh

Fade to the Endzone

13 Oct 2019 — My interest in football has been on a downward trajectory like so many lobbed passes.

This year marks the 15th anniversaries of ESPN NFL 2K5, my favorite sports video-game, and Friday Night Lights, my favorite sports movie. They were released on 20 July and 8 October of 2004, respectively. These two works came during a time when I needed them: I was obsessed with football in all its forms from 2003-2007. I never played competitive football, but I used to daydream about it.

These days, I’m a casual follower at best. I think that I’m representative of many Millennials; I don’t own a TV or subscribe to any broadcast services. I occasionally watch highlights on YouTube and I really only watch the Super Bowl, but even doing that isn’t a given. I can’t be bothered to play fantasy football or even video-game football, the latter of which has occupied several hundred hours of my time.

The NFL and NCAA football are still, and will always be, cash-machines. Concerns about long-term health, incidents of embarrassing and unacceptable behavior, and attrition of marquee stars are hurting the sport, though. I agree with the assertion that the present state of broadcast times, YouTube highlights, and fantasy football have diminished the traditional experience of Game Day.

Maybe I’m just getting old. I’m around the same age as the rookies in NFL 2K5, who are either retired or, like Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, on the verge of being retired. The NFL has a new generation of stars, but among the players in Madden NFL 20—who aren’t in NFL 2K5—how many will be Hall of Famers? Will another football-centered movie ever capture my curiosity and imagination like Friday Night Lights? I’ve started watching QB1, the executive producer of which is the director of the movie and the fictional show.

Stakeholders of organized football, whether professional or amateur, are probably wistfully looking back at better times, as I am. I’ve recently watched a video that shows rugby-style tackling techniques that minimize head and neck impact, and along with rules that discourage leading with the head, football might be safer in the long run. Whether it will be as or more popular is uncertain.