Millennials were reared by their parents to be an egalitarian, group-oriented cohort, one that believes the welfare and success of individuals is best assured by maximizing the welfare and success of the entire group. It’s no coincidence, then, that high schools and colleges prohibited the taunting of opponents and exaggerated celebration of individual achievements on the gridiron just as Millennials were beginning to play football at those levels.
Perhaps Millennials will bring their group-oriented values to the NFL, producing a kinder, gentler version of pro football just in time to save the league from its boomer-dominated approach.
If so, the version of football that Steve Sabol’s films made so popular a half century ago will become a thing of the past. But, if the NFL doesn’t take the steps necessary to convince Millennials and their parents that their game is safe to play, it will take much more than brilliant films to enable the league to maintain its sports leadership position in the decades to come.