Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

NFL communications is PR, and Brian McCarthy is a PR guy, so we shouldn't and don't expect them to share anything that isn't overwhelmingly positive for the league. Take this post McCarthy just tweeted out, which "summarizes" the results of a new HBO Real Sports/Marist poll on public opinion of youth football in the wake of increased awareness of the link between head injuries and long-term brain trauma.

The findings, according to the NFL:

  • 85 percent of adults surveyed said that if they had a son, they would allow him to play football if he wanted to. Of the parents surveyed with a son 18 or younger, 87 percent indicated they would allow their son to play football.
  • 70 percent of adults surveyed agreed that the benefits of playing football for boys outweigh the risk of injury. Of the parents surveyed with a son 18 or younger, that figure rose to 73 percent.
  • 74 percent of adults agreed that football is a good way to build character and that boys should be encouraged to play the sport. Of the football fans surveyed, that figure rose to 81 percent.
  • 94 percent of adults indicated that at least some people in their community follow and talk about football during the season.

Wow, sounds good for football! Only, there's no link to the actual survey, which you can find here, and has a very different temperment, and contains a few poll questions the NFL didn't mention.

In the interest of equal time, we'll summarize some of those neglected findings here. Brian, feel free to copy and paste.

  • 33 percent say the link between head injuries in football and long-term brain trauma would make them less likely to allow their son to play football.
  • 32 percent say recent information about concussions have made them more concerned about the risk of long-term brain injury.
  • 56 percent say the risk of long-term brain injury would be an important factor in deciding to allow their son to play football. Another 16 percent say it would be the sole, deciding factor.
  • 24 percent say the risk of injury is too high to allow young boys to play football.
  • 14 percent say learning more about the effects of concussions has made football less enjoyable for them.

These are surely a minority of respondents, just as surely as the numbers are growing—and represent millions of Americans. Football isn't in danger of falling out of fashion anytime soon, but cherry-picking questions on a poll released under the header "Youth Football Takes Hard Hit" is an odd way to trumpet the sport's popularity.

[HBO Real Sports/Marist Poll]

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