Amist the clamor over the World Cup, a startling statistic comes to mind. More than 80% of the players in the National Football League are African American. A fact not lost on coaches at St. Pete Catholic caught violating FHSAA rules by recruiting athletes from the St. Pete Green Devils...an all black inner city football team.
Yet as more white males refuse to allow their masculinity to be defined by bulging muscles and a thick neck, growing economic independence for black males may translate into more skate boards, surf boards, and soccer balls. Especially since mothers are demanding their sons get in touch with their feminine side. For example, it's okay now for boys to cry, and they do. It's okay now for boys to wear pink shirts, and they do. The old stereotype of earning your manhood in the muddy trenches of high school football are declining. Just ask any football coach struggling to field a 40-man squad. Consider five years ago, soccer star, Mia Hamm, hosted a clinic that was sold out in three hours; meanwhile, All pro linebacker, Junior Seau, couldn't believe only 40-boys showed up for his annual football camp. Furthermore 20-sesons ago, 180 colleges had football teams, but high insurance cost reduced that number by eighty.
To make matters worse, a time honored football tradition, "Monday Night Football" was dropped by ABC due to diminishing ratings also exhorbiant production cost. On the flip side
from 1998 to 2002, the television audience for the World Cup increased 52%; a fact not lost on ABC/ESPN which paid over $100-million for the broadcast rights to this year's spectacle. At least half of the audience is now female; not surprising since one third of girls play soccer translating into a built in fan base for the international soccer federation. Football, unfortunately, gets no cross from girls who shy away from the bone crushing contact sport. Football may have maxed out with males, however a growing tide of immigration, ensures soccer's growth in this country. The NFL may soon face the same problem of baseball. In the 40's, 50's, and 60's, little league baseball produced Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Bob Gibson, also Ernie Banks. Each one a Hall of Fame African American major leaguer. Now the big leagues are looking at affirmative action to recruit black baseball players. Finally, as Americans redefine masculinity, African American males may soon follow their white counterparts into coed soccer. Just watching the girls, may convince boys to trade in their remote control video games for a pink soccer jersey.