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. In a national survey, more than two thirds of the public (69 percent) oppose eliminating punts and kickoffs and 68 percent reject the concept of converting the professional sport to “flag football,” as is typically played in amateur and intramural leagues. 71 percent of Americans 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. Of the 22 percent who report watching fewer NFL broadcasts this season, only seven percent attribute a declining interest to concerns over violence. At the same time, 43 percent say that political issues, such as players kneeling during the National Anthem, are the primary reason they are tuning the game out, with that number climbing to 66 percent among respondents aged 55 and older.

Support for football 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.

Seventy percent of respondents plan to watch the Super Bowl and, good news for Philadelphia, the survey found the Eagles were preferred to win 59 percent over the Patriots, 41 percent.

The survey was conducted with 1,003 respondents nationwide by the newly launched Passions in America cultural trends site and Research America Inc.

Passions in America co-founder and national cultural trend expert Dan McGinn says these types of findings offer greater insight into who we are as people. “This survey shows that the broader ‘anti-regulation’ sentiment in our society extends to sports. The American people get it that football is violent. They just don’t think we need more rules or regulations to fix the problem.”

Asserts Joe Posnanski, Passions in America co-founder and award-winning national sports writer, “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.”

Click here to view the survey results for this series of questions.

Passions in America is a new independent research and consulting venture that incorporates public opinion polls, storytelling, data analytics and academic analysis to explore and understand how Americans spend their discretionary time and money.

Survey Methodology
Results of this survey are based on interviews conducted between January 25-30, 2018 with adults in the United States. A total of 1,003 interviews were completed online using an opt-in internet panel as sample. The completed sample was balanced to be representative of the adult (age 18 plus) population of the United States-based census demographics.

Photo courtesy NFL