NBA upstages NFL as most popular sport

Shawn Humphrey, Staff writer

For a school that lacks a football team, it would be easy to leave the sport behind.

However, what much of the nation might find it hard to accept is that football may be losing ground as the most popular sport in the United States. Following the lowest-rated Super Bowl in the last decade, Americans may begin to focus their attention towards the next most popular sport in the country: basketball.

Unlike the NFL, the NBA is a league without a proverbial cloud of domestic violence issues, polarizing protests and consistent concussions.

The NBA also is more marketable to the youth than the NFL. It’s much easier to recognize your favorite players when they aren’t wearing helmets that obscure their faces every time they take the field.

Take a look at social media. NBA superstar LeBron James sits at more than 45 million followers on Instagram, while wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., with more followers than any other NFL player, has just over 12 million.

Even the NBA Instagram account itself has two times more followers than the NFL’s account. NBA players also are making a bigger mark when it comes to clothing. You don’t see football players signing shoe deals comparable to James Harden’s gargantuan 13-year, $200-million deal with Adidas. It’s hard to find someone who is excited to rock the new “Tom Brady 12s.”

The NBA also hasn’t had to deal with the cloud of controversy the NFL continues to suffering from. After receiving repeated blows to the head for their entire career, NFL players have to deal with the possibility of developing CTE, a degenerative brain disease.

Several former players have sued the league in recent years for failing to protect them. Now, the NFL is forced to focus on altering the rules of the game so that players aren’t taking these types of injuries as much.

While longtime fans of the game will argue that the league has become “soft,” others may simply choose to change the channel and watch Stephen Curry launch three-pointers from near half court.

The NFL is also forced to deal with a new player facing charges every season.

Just this year, the league watched one of its brightest young stars in Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt destroy his reputation with a domestic violence incident that was caught on video.

Now, the same player finds himself with a new team not even one year later. This will undoubtedly upset even longtime fans of the league.

He’s nowhere near the first player to find himself in this kind of situation either. In 2015, defensive-end Greg Hardy was handed a 10-game suspension for a domestic violence incident for which he was found guilty in a court of law.

Hardy’s 10-game suspension was reduced to four games and he signed a contract with the Dallas Cowboys — America’s Team.

NFL fans also will find fault with the fact that teams don’t think twice about giving players with these types of issues second chances, but have all but pushed Colin Kaepernick out of the league.

Or perhaps some fans will stand on the other side of the issue, having been turned off by seeing players such as Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem.

Compare this type of ethical battle with a league where the main issue that has people up in arms is the Golden State Warriors signing another star player.