Will Youth Football Participation Continue To Drop?
The football season will be starting soon on all levels from six years old to the pros and all of the stories about National Football League retired players’ health issues are not going away. The question of whether parents should allow their children to play tackle football is not going away either. Those are topics that people employed by the NFL have danced around with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell saying if he had boys he would allow his sons to play the game. So it was somewhat surprising when retired NFL executive Ernie Accorsi told Michael Kay on ESPN’s New York radio station that he had a concern for the future of the game. Accorsi said he is worried because there is a decline in the participation of young players in the lower levels of the game.
Accorsi said that the game is healthy in the south, in Texas, in California and in Florida but where the game really started in the coal mine and steel mill country, Pennsylvania, it is not what it used to be. Accorsi knows head injury publicity is not helping in getting parents to sign kids up for football. But he also said there are many more sports available for kids to play. There are more players than ever playing high school football in Louisiana, Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas but there is a decline in a strong football state Ohio and in Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota and Iowa.
There are some “experts” that contend football is safer than ever, but a reported 13 high school players died last year from football related incidents. There is no data on young players who suffered catastrophic injuries on the field last year in terms of numbers. The season is days away and the question of whether parents should allow their children to play football is going to be a topic in many households across the country despite measures employed to make football safer.
By Evan Weiner for The Politics of Sports Business.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.