After Peak Football: Trends in and Futures for America’s Most Popular Sport Journal Article uri icon



  • Football, the American kind, has long been the most popular sport in the United States according to metrics related to participation, attendance at games and television viewership, However, according to these metrics, football has peaked. A range of data, and with differing degrees of certainty, indicate that football participation, attendance and television viewership has in varying degrees peaked and subsequently declined. While football’s preeminence in American culture does not appear to be threatened, at least at present, decades of uninterrupted growth in the popularity of the sport have reached an inflection point. This paper presents a large amount of data on participation, attendance and viewership that collectively demonstrates that the United States is now past peak football. The paper concludes with a brief exploration of possible alternative futures for the sport in the context of a range of pressures, including greater awareness of the risks of repetitive head impacts. Football has many possible futures -- which one actually occurs will reflect choices made within the sport in the near term, as well as influences of the broader social, cultural, political and legal contexts within which football evolves.

publication date

  • August 27, 2019

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • November 4, 2020 5:02 AM

Full Author List

  • Pielke R

author count

  • 1

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