August 23rd, 2017 at 2:16 PM ^

The demographics are definitely driving the state-by-state comparisons about football growth/decline, which is reasonable since that directly reflects upon the available students and resources. Nationally, the general decline in school funding and the explosion of alternative extracurricular activities can account for the net decrease in football participation. However, this does not seem to me that football is dying (or even. In serious decline), but is instead settling into an "equilibrium" with the other available activities.


August 23rd, 2017 at 2:46 PM ^

Demographics, plus the fact that there are inter and intra district consolidations where schools and districts are merging resulting in bigger schools but fewer teams.

Detroit alone has lost a few high schools but the kids still attend and play for another school.


August 23rd, 2017 at 4:00 PM ^

football is dying is a huge stretch. Particiaption is down not only in High School but in youth leagues also. I think over the next decade there could be future decline, but I don't see football ever dying or not being a huge sport for many years to come in this country.   I agree on what you touched on also being a factor in decrease participation, there are just a lot more activities for kids to do outside of football, then there probably was even 10 years ago.


August 23rd, 2017 at 1:30 PM ^

"A white mother said her son in 4th grade complained he had nothing to put on his resume."


Uhh, probably because you're in 4th grade, kid.

uncle leo

August 23rd, 2017 at 1:30 PM ^

And I'll say it another 1000 times.

Football, as we currently know it, in the way it is played now cannot sustain over a long period of time. Parents are becoming much too wise to the obvious debilitating long-term effects. NFL players are retiring earlier and earlier. 

Something has to change. 

Woodstock Wolverine

August 23rd, 2017 at 2:03 PM ^

Yessir! Get rid of helmets and no more head injurys. Instead you'll have to just tackle the body. Helmets give a person the sense that leading with the head and aiming for the head are acceptable ways to bring someone down.

Getting rid of helmets will never happen but Rugby is a violent sport and has much less head injurys.


August 23rd, 2017 at 2:06 PM ^

Exactly. I'd imagine we'd also see a substantial rise in knee injuries due to players going for the lower body instead. I would hate to see football disappear as we know it, but having said that, I wouldn't have any interest in running a crossing route when there are multiple jacked up LBs waiting to decapitate me.


August 23rd, 2017 at 3:06 PM ^

but when I played I was told to break down into a tackling position, hit with my shoulder, and keep my head up so I could see what I was doing. Then wrap and drop the guy. My coach hated 'impact' tackles because he felt that the ball carrier would bounce off and get away too often.

I was told that hitting with my helmet or even lowering my helmet in a tackle could get me hit with a spearing penalty. 

Is spearing no longer called? Is that way of tackling really dating me, or was I unique? Is it unreasonable in todays game? 


August 23rd, 2017 at 2:10 PM ^

I dunno. Fatalities were not uncommon in the days before helmets. Antedotally, it sounds like the fatalaty rate was much higher without pads, but it's hard to come upon reliable statistics from 100 years ago. Regardless, no easy answer to football's injury issues.


August 23rd, 2017 at 2:12 PM ^

I agree there are no easy answers. To me it seems like the best option is to shift from head injuries to body injuries (broken bones, torn ligaments, etc.). Would much rather have a functional brain at 60 than a functional knee, but if you hear some of the stories of old running backs their lives sound pretty shitty even in their 40s and 50s.

Blue in Paradise

August 23rd, 2017 at 2:36 PM ^

American football...

There are some stats in there.  Basically, football had become so dangerous by the first decade of the 1900s that schools (college was the defact pro football of the time) were dropping their programs.

Teddy told various football authorities that they needed to make drastic changes or he was going to outlaw the game althogether.  This is where the forward pass was "invented" along with a myriad of other changes to the most dangerous formations and plays.

Moral of the story, football can and will survive drastic changes to the fabric of the game (especially when its existance is threatened).  

I believe that in 30 years, football will be a much more wide open game and will look at lot more like flag football does now.  There will be much more limitations on blocking and tackling.  Just my guestimate...



August 23rd, 2017 at 2:03 PM ^

But you just asked for helmets that will completely eliminate the risk of concussions. I am confused. What are you looking for exactly? Eliminate concussions or the risk of concussions? One can never "completely" eliminate either. There is always a chance, however small it is.


August 23rd, 2017 at 4:04 PM ^

Its' not the helmet but the body being slammed around which in turn makes the brain slam against the wall of the skull repeatedly causes the problem. Over time playing this game each hit over the years accumulates to cause long term damage.

Helmet design are fine they are not going to get rid of concussions. You don't need to get hit directly in the head to suffer a concussion.

big john lives on 67

August 23rd, 2017 at 2:50 PM ^

There are many studies out there that show girls soccer at #1 in concussion rate and above that of football. There are also studies that show that repeated minor impacts are more damaging than major concussion inducing hits.

The problem is that the brain and how it works is not very well understood. The studies concussions and their long term effects are also in their infancy.

If we want to overreact to football, then we can just cancel any sport with any contact, including girls soccer, basketball, hockey, boys lacrosse, etc. We'll all be wearing bubble wrap, running cross country and playing baseball.


August 23rd, 2017 at 3:01 PM ^

Not super clear to me yet. I think the we need more data:…

"Recent studies show that soccer has surpassed football," said neurologist Peter A. Puzio from Augusta Health Neurology. "As soccer grows in popularity, so does the incidence of concussion. There's not a perfect a number because it all depends on the severity of each one, but there is a cumulative effect of concussions. One is bad, but it depends on the severity of the concussions..."


"...And while many quit football, some athletes moved on to other sports such as soccer, or wrestling — both of which many people believe are less dangerous. But recent studies show they are just as risky as football."


August 23rd, 2017 at 1:49 PM ^

I wouldn't be so sure. It will weed out those with proactive, strong parents, but there are plenty of people in the US and internationally who don't have that luxury and will either knowingly or not sacrifice their future for the chance at money now.


August 23rd, 2017 at 2:23 PM ^

That's why football will adapt or go extinct.  Parents are not going to take risks for their kids if football players keep dying with brain damage.

My guess is that within 2-3 years, you'll see the NFL tinker with stuff in the preseason, like forcing the DL and OL to line up 1-2 yards off the line of scrimmage to prevent immediate head-on collisions or forbidding tackling above the waist or chest.  

The current CBA expires in 2020 or 2021 and there's already talk of a lockout.  Owners will probably be forced at that time to implement some rule changes.


August 23rd, 2017 at 4:33 PM ^

I'm not a fan of gladitorial contests the way the Romans did them. So far as I can tell the gladiators were chattel. However, they were bloody expensive chattel. It was my understanding that it wouldn't be economically possible to have contests where they kept dying. So your gladiator might get hammered into a blood soaked mess but most contests weren't to the death.


August 23rd, 2017 at 4:17 PM ^

people do take risks all the time, but the more data people find out the less people are willing to take those risks or allow their children to take the risk. I played football for many years and if I had, had a son I think I would've steered him to something like golf over football knowing what I know now about the long term risks.  I know my body has suffered from the years of playing the game.


August 23rd, 2017 at 2:27 PM ^

....but I'm still not sold on CTE for Pop Warner/HS. How many of us have played over the years from grades 4-12? 

I'm not saying we shouldn't study it. I'm not saying we shouldn't do proactive things like train proper tackling form and try to maybe improve helmets. I am saying that me and all of my friends who played tackle football for years aren't showing any long term effects. Neither did my father and all of his friends who played in the 50's. This suggests to me that we should be taking a long term large scope study to determine the risks. 

The biggest sin here isn't football the game, IMHO. Its that the NFL had data i covered up to avoid bad publicity. 

Football may die. And Wrestling and Soccer may go with it to the ashbin when that data is compiled. But I think people are being way too knee jerk. I wouldn't have a problem putting my son on a pop warner team. He might play on the same team as the son of his pediatrician.