Football, America’s most popular sport, wouldn’t seem to be endangered. Super Bowl 50 pulled in 112 million viewers, and weekly games are regularly the most-watched events on TV. It’s the richest professional league, raking in several billion dollars in revenue every year. But Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is deeply concerned about the future of the NFL, and he’s identified the No. 1 threat to the future of the sport: Moms.
That’s right, mothers, according to Arians are waging war against this great American tradition. “We feel like this is our sport. It’s being attacked, and we got to stop it at the grass roots,” he told a group of high school football coaches on Friday. “It’s the best game that’s ever been fucking invented, and we got to make sure that moms get the message, because that’s who’s afraid of our game right now. It’s not dads, it’s moms.” So, mothers’ fear for the safety and the long-term brain health of their child versus the fairly infinitesimal chance that years of accumulating concussive hits will lead to a professional career (an NCAA estimate puts it at 1.6% of college players making it in the NFL) is the greatest threat to football’s continued existence. It’s definitely not that football as currently practiced has led to high rates of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in its players.
It’s also nice of Arians to wrap his statement with a nice reductionist view of gender. In case you’re lost: Mothers are killing America’s sport, and fathers aren’t worried about CTE. This is maybe not the best tack to take when you’re talking about a sport whose 150 million-person fanbase is 45 percent women. Arians took to Twitter today to try and clarify his comments, noting that he only singled out moms as Football’s Most Wanted because “Moms are often the ones making those decisions in the family. We have to make sure that they’re getting the message about everything being done to make the game as safe as possible.”