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Poll: 50 Percent of Americans Don't Want Their Kids Playing Football

Another week, another damning poll suggesting American parents don't want their sons playing competitive football.

On Wednesday, Bloomberg Politics published the findings of a Dec. 3-5 poll, which questioned 1,001 U.S. adults on a bevy of subjects, including their feelings toward youth football. The results weren't very favorable, as 50 percent of adults said that if they had a young son, they would not want him to play competitive football.

Bloomberg Politics' Twitter account provided a look at the football-related findings:

The poll also asked respondents where they expected football's popularity to be 20 years from now. A majority (56 percent) said "about the same," 22 percent said "less popular," 17 percent said "even more popular," and the remaining 5 percent expressed uncertainty.

Bloomberg's Annie Linskey dived deeper into the demographic breakdown of those more bearish on the future of football:

Almost a third of those who make $100,000 or more a year say football will lose followers over the next two decades. More than a quarter of college-educated respondents agree. The same wealthy and college-educated folks are the most likely groups to want to keep their children off the gridiron. Sixty-two percent of college-educated respondents said they don't want their children playing the sport and 62 percent of those making $100,000 or more a year agree.

Bloomberg's poll isn't the first to find waning interest in youth football among adults due to health-related concerns. An Associated Press-GfK poll from earlier this year found 44 percent of parents to be uncomfortable with the idea of their children playing football, although just 5 percent of parents had actually discouraged their children from playing within the past two years. A HBO Real Sports/Marist poll from last fall found roughly one in three Americans to be less likely to allow their children to play football due to what they know about football-related head injuries and long-term brain damage.

Buzz Bissinger, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Friday Night Lights," also penned a column for Time magazine back in September condemning parents for allowing children to play football.

"What is needed is an organized campaign much like the campaign on the dangers of smoking," Bissinger wrote. "If high school kids want to play football, and their parents want them to play football, then they must be reminded of the risks. Over and over and over."

Parental hesitation is beginning to have a tangible effect on youth-football participation. Pop Warner, the nation's largest youth-football program, experienced a 9.5 percent drop in participation between 2010-12. High school football participation rose for just the first time in five years this past school year.

Bloomberg's Scott Soshnick shared some football-related takeaways from a participation report released Wednesday by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association:

This was always the major fear with football once the horror stories about long-term brain damage began emerging. If parents begin preventing their children from playing en masse, the talent pipeline will begin drying up.

In short, NFL ratings aren't a gauge of the sport's long-term popularity and viability. Middle and high school participation figures are.

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