Too Much Downton Abbey Is Bad For Your Manhood

It's true, guys: Those marathon Netflix nights are killing your sperm.

What with the Beyoncé halftime extravaganza and the mysterious third-quarter blackout that lasted for half an hour, Sunday night’s Super Bowl was even longer than Jacoby Jones’s record-tying kickoff runback. In fact, the game clocked in at some four and three-quarters hours, which is way too long to be eating chips-and-dip and wings. Chances are that when the game finally ended, with a clever safety play the 49ers clearly weren’t expecting—but that the announcers had cannily discussed but ruled out—you were thinking about bed. We, though, were worrying about your sperm.

You see, a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine and reported by BMJ Open shows that watching 20 hours of TV a week cuts men’s sperm counts by 44 percent. Forty-four percent. As in nearly half as many swimmers ready and able to do their thing.

The 189 subjects of the study, all of whom were between the ages of 18 and 22 and living in Rochester, New York, were surveyed about their leisure activities, workout and eating habits, whether they smoked, how stressed they were, and any health or medical problems. Most were nonsmokers; more than half were of average weight. The survey results indicated that guys who watched 20 hours of TV or more each week had sperm counts 44 percent lower than those who watched the least TV. And you know how much TV the average American teenager watches these days? That’s right: 20 hours a week.

Another recent report that showed the nation’s teen pregnancy rate at a 40-year low left experts scratching their heads as to exactly what might have changed in the past few decades. Bill Alert, chief program officer of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (what else would a guy named Alert do?), gave his opinion: “Most researchers would say it’s due to this magic combination of less sex and more contraception.” Um, really, Bill? Magic? Not so fast. Could be it’s just guys watching the Super Bowl, plus an NBA game or two, plus American Idol, plus Two and a Half Men, plus Breaking Bad, plus …  Hey, who knew television was such an effective prophylactic? Not to mention the unending commercials for Cialis and feminine protection products and that absolutely disgusting Super Bowl GoDaddy ad where Bar Rafaeli kissed that pimply teenager, which ought to be illegal. Anyway, thanks, TV, for bringing pregnancy rates down. Even if the Wall Street Journal announced over the weekend that the America we know and love is doomed to extinction unless we all put the guacamole down and get up off the sofa and have more babies. Which I don’t think is gonna happen. Especially when the Super Bowl keeps everybody up so late.