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Why Lem Barney is probably wrong about the future of football, even though he’s right

Lem Barney is a former professional football player who, according to USA Today, had some interesting things to say about his former livelihood.

Lem Barney is an NFL legend, a Hall of Famer who made his living playing football.

And he wouldn’t do it again.

Speaking Friday at the Sound Mind Sound Body Camp in Southfield, Mich., the Detroit Lions great said the sport would be gone within the next two decades….

“It’s a great game, and I think it’s the greatest game if you like gladiators. It’s the greatest game for yesteryear’s gladiators. But in the next 10 to 20 years, society will alleviate football altogether because of how strong it’s becoming, how big it’s becoming and the tenacity that it already is. And it’s only going to get worse.”

Barney was on a panel with some college football coaches, who (according to writer Mark Snyder) “appeared frozen” when Barney made his statements.

Maybe the coaches had suffered concussions themselves.

However, despite the numerous issues with people who suffered from football concussions, I’m not sure that Barney is right about the demise of football – even with Gregg Doyel’s 2012 input into the conversation:

Today it’s Troy Aikman saying he’s not sure he would let his son play football. Soon it’ll be the young parent down the street. Then more of them. And more.

You can’t play football without football players.

While Doyel’s statement is true, there are a number of businesses that are dependent upon advertising to football players, and there are a number of teams that need football revenue, and there are a number of cities that need football gate receipts.

And even if every parent in every one of the 50 United States refuses to let their kids play football, the advertisers and the teams and the cities will ensure that a steady supply of new football players can be acquired from outside of the country. They may even get their friends in Congress – themselves dependent upon the money and the votes supplied by these stakeholders – to approve new visa regulations to get professional football players into this country to do the job that no American is willing to do.

And with a steady supply of impoverished football players from the third and fourth worlds, football will hum along.

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