by Jim Reese
What is the future of football? Very often these days, that question is being asked.
The monster entertainment known as the NFL is a multi billion dollar endeavor that thrills millions for half the calendar year. A companion piece, college football, has hundreds of teams playing before millions more in person or on television. There are over 14,000 high schools in America, 80% of which have varsity and junior varsity teams playing ten to twelve games each. One million boys play high school football every year. Another 100,000 play in college. 1,696 play in the NFL.
The sport has become America’s national past time, leaving baseball far behind.
An alarming statistic, though, is that 3.5% fewer boys are playing high school football in the United States than 5 years ago. Forty-one states have seen a drop in participation over those five years.
The sport is threatened as never before. The inability of the NFL to deal with issues like kneeling during the anthem, or punishing domestic violence abuse, or ridiculous end zone celebrations or dealing with concussions has lessened the viewer ratings on television.
The competition to reach college and the NFL is so great that men, especially linemen, will do anything to become heavier and wider and faster to get to those million dollar pay days. They are driven by strength and conditioning coaches uncaring or oblivious to the dangers to their players and their opponents that CTE will very likely ruin their future lives. Linemen are 25% heavier than a generation ago. They give and get more powerful hits every year.
Everybody knows the problems. But what are the solutions?
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