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The NBA has surpassed the NFL as the league of America’s future | Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

The NFL may still be America’s most popular sport, but it’s become increasingly clear that football embodies the spirit of a nation as it once was – not as it is today

Although football has long been America’s favorite child among professional sports, there are clear indicators that the ole pigskin is starting to deflate in fans’ eyes. Football fanatics need not panic: polls show it’s still far ahead of both baseball and basketball in popularity. The 2017 NBA finals averaged 20.4m viewers (a 20-year record), which is roughly the same as the NFL’s regular Sunday night audience of 20.3m, and nowhere near the 2016 Super Bowl über-audience of 111m. Based on just those numbers, football is still kicking professional basketball, baseball, and hockey through the goal posts. But America can be fickle. And the Magic 8-Ball of our cultural zeitgeist says, “All signs point to the NBA replacing the NFL as the league of America’s future.”

This prediction has nothing to do with the athletes themselves, their level of skill, their heart, or their commitment to their sport. Professional athletes are generally the highest expression of what the human body is capable of doing and therefore inspiring to the fans to reach higher and strive harder. In that way, no sport is superior to any other sport. But when it comes to professional sports, some are more inspirational, more exciting, and more entertaining to the general public than others and those sports take on a symbolic meaning for Americans. They come to represent our core values. They represent not just who we are, but who we want be.

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