Business trends worth following

Two interesting trends will affect economic growth and decline in northern states and southern Canada.

First, a few Minnesota doctors have attracted attention for recommending schools eliminate tackle football programs. The doctors reject the Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that schools preserve tackle football while encouraging other options, like touch or flag football. The doctors disagree with the Academy that tackle football can be made safe with training exercises, as the Academy suggests. This trend is important for the long-term economic health of the sporting goods industry, especially the football industry. Football at the collegiate and professional levels is profitable for, among others, team owners, coaches, professional players, broadcasters, hotels, restaurants, and fantasy football websites. (Collegiate players earn nothing, and many don’t even receive scholarships for their athletic labor).  Whether the sport of tackle football will be able to sustain itself in the face of evidence that the sport damages players’ brains remains to be seen. Also, it is unclear whether substitute sports like soccer or flag football will rise to the current level of economic activity of tackle football.  Many possible substitute sports–hockey, soccer, lacrosse–suffer their own problems with concussion and brain injuries, potentially limiting their appeal to parents and players concerned about health.

The second trend worth following is the effects of climate change on economic activity in Minnesota. As winters warm, growing seasons are extended while ice season contracts. The contraction of ice season implies that industries based on hockey, ice fishing, and other outdoor activities will decline. It is an unwise time to invest in starting an ice fishing gear company, for example. However, the lengthening growing season suggests new opportunities for agriculture to expand in the northern states and southern Canada. Minnesota is home to a research initiative breeding new grape varieties that can withstand the temperature fluctuations coincident with climate change.

In addition to business trends, cultural trends will emerge in response to changing climate. Already, fall sports like tackle football and soccer are enjoying longer pleasant-weather playing seasons. Halloween is becoming milder, and Thanksgiving will increasingly be seen as a late summer rather than fall holiday. As forest composition changes in response to the influx of new insects and diseases, it is possible that the fall colors associated with some regions will fade or disappear, threatening fall traditions and billions in tourism dollars for some regions.

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