Football’s Decline Causing Some High Schools to Disband Teams

Participation in high school football down 3.5 percent over the past five years.

High School Football Participation Has Dipped Over Last Five Years
(David Black/Flickr)

Remember all the hoopla surrounding your high school’s football homecoming game? The pep rallies, painted faces, packed stands, joyous roars. That could all be a thing of the past soon, if the trends keep going the way they do.

According to the Associated Press, there’s been a steady decline in participation in high school football over the last five years—down 3.5 percent, nationally. Some school districts have even disbanded their football teams.

One of the main reasons for the dip? Health concerns surrounding the game, which has been under heavy scrutiny because of the risk of CTE, a degenerative brain disease, which could start developing in young players, only to manifest its ill effects later in life—like behavioral problems.

As National Association of State High School Federations’ executive director Bob Gardner told the AP, “The amount of publicity [about CTE], beginning with the NFL and what you see on national news, has caused concern among parents. Probably some who would have been more inclined to let their young men play, maybe are making different decisions now.”

Other factors in high school football’s decline include an increasing number of students specializing in one sport, and just how expensive football can be for students and the high schools themselves.

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