America lives in a day and age when no longer do we have a large group of widely popular major sports. The millennium has taken us to a place in this country where all sports have been thinly spread out to “niche” status in popularity with only one remaining exception – the behemoth that is football. We’ve seen days go by when baseball was America’s pastime…when big boxing and horse racing events completely stopped the clocks. More recently, tennis boomed in the 1970s and early ‘80s, basketball in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and when Tiger landed, golf ratings soared. But today, football is the last sport standing that is universally loved across generational lines, ethnic divides, gender, socioeconomic backgrounds, and geographic variances. The answer to the question, “why has this happened?” is very simple…Too many other things to do these days. You never used to be able to watch movies at home. No computers, no cell phones... and no ESPN & cable… When a sporting event was on TV, it was special. Now, convenience allows you to miss tonight’s game without guilt, knowing you can catch the next one on any other given evening. And people’s lives are increasingly distracted with more gadgets and endless sources of entertainment creating a dizzying menu of options. We’ve become Generation A.D.D.! That’s not to say that options are bad. They just tend to spread the popularity of things more horizontally and less vertically. And so for the masses that work hard on the weekdays and raise kids in the evenings, there’s just one sport out there that is a unifier. It’s the one that Saturdays and Sundays were made for. And that is football.
Tom James is a 2-time Edward R. Murrow Award-winning sportscaster, who does play-by-play & studio work for the ESPN Family of Networks (including ESPN Wide World of Sports, ESPN3, college football, basketball, & a wide array of other sports), CBS Sports Network, Lax Sports Network, & Pro Watercross. Tom also hosts and produces sports documentaries & is part of the weekly regionally syndicated college football radio show, "Southern Pigskin Tonight."