What do horse racing, track and field, boxing and little league baseball have in common? They are dying enterprises. On the flip side, casino gambling, video games, lacrosse and youth soccer are soaring in popularity. What's behind these shifts? Are they inevitable? Can they be reversed?
Take the case of the NFL. No sport has enjoyed more success over the last 30 years than professional football. The executives who run ESPN openly acknowledge that the NFL dominates their ratings - year round. But is this fixed in concrete? The recent controversy over head injuries and the subsequent lawsuit by hundreds of former players is a warning shot to the league that they better not take their success for granted.
How people choose to spend their free time and free money is enormously revealing. Consider baseball. Is it really America's pastime? In Boston, New York and St. Louis the answer is yes. But it is certainly not the case in Atlanta, Tampa or Oakland. Baseball is a great sport, and its overall revenues are increasing, but after more than 100 years of expansion and development, it is still a highly regional sport.
Lastly, the US has always been passionate about cars, but the hobby of car collecting is in serious peril. Go to a car show or tune in to the Velocity channel and the one clear impression is that only guys over 55 care about antique cars. While this may not be the whole story, it should be of great concern to those who want the hobby to continue. Add to this problem the fact that a majority of 17-year-olds don't have a drivers license and the evidence is overwhelming that a permanent shift in America's habits is occurring.