Football taking a hit because of injury?

As the most popular sport in America, football appears invincible, and it probably is for the near future. But as research on concussions continues to bring bad news, one wonders if football proponents will accuse those of us who are concerned about head injuries guilty of piling on.
Fact is, the number of high school football players around the country has dropped dramatically.
According to an annual survey by the National Federation of State High School Associations, more than 25,000 fewer kids played football in the U.S. last year than only four years earlier. About 10,000 fewer kids played last year than 2011.
Even in a football-crazy state like Pennsylvania ? think Pittsburgh and Philadelphia ? rosters are shrinking.
While the reasons for the decline are varied, everyone from coaches to school administrators to parents say the main reason is fear of concussions.
Mt. Lebanon?s football team had to cancel its junior-varsity game last fall because it was short-handed. Because of some injuries and a much smaller-than-usual roster, Mt. Lebanon didn?t have enough linemen to play the game.
That may not seem significant, but consider that Mt. Lebanon has a winning tradition and is the seventh-largest school in the 125-team Western Penn?syl??- vania Interscholastic Ath?letic League.
The problem with roster size goes deeper than high schools. A number of schools in western Pennsylvania have folded their ninth-grade programs, mostly because of low numbers.

At least one coach believes parents are overreacting about concussions, and the result is that it?s adversely affecting football.

This coach said, ?If you?re a young parent, you should be more concerned about your child going to college and dying of alcohol poisoning than him playing football. Or you should be much more concerned about your child driving a car than playing football.
?I heard a report recently where hundreds of people die every year on ATVs (all-terrain vehicles). Maybe 300 are kids. If there were 300 kids who died in a year playing football, there would be a federal outcry. Nevertheless, nobody says much and we keep putting kids on ATVs.?
While concussions are largely blamed for the decline in player participation, some parents, players and coaches believe there might be another reason kids aren?t playing as much football: the time demanded in the offseason.
Preparation for high school football has become a year-round process, much of it involving weight lifting.
If the trend continues, you can bet that the NCAA and NFL will start worrying about the future of football.
As football tryouts were held last fall around the country, a leading medical body released a 306-page NFL-funded report that found football not only has by far the highest rates of concussions at the interscholastic level, but also that the average high school player is nearly twice as likely to suffer a brain injury as a college player.
A panel of medical experts convened by the National Academy of Sciences analyzed a series of academic studies, with the most recent showing that college football players suffer concussions at a rate of 6.3 concussions per 1,000 ?athletic exposures??each exposure representing a practice or game. For high school football players, the comparable figure is 11.2.
The findings are likely to heighten safety questions about football at the high school level, where athletes of varying levels of physical maturity collide with each other.
Football may still be king, but the red flags nowadays aren?t limited to coaches challenging an official?s call during a game. More and more, parents and kids are seeing red flags resulting from mounting evidence on concussions and head injuries. They seem to be saying enough is enough.
Mt. Lebanon coach Mike Melnyk said, ?There?s no question the litigation going on these days with concussions is starting to have an impact, especially on parents.?

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