Football injuries lead some schools to drop program

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Marino Dominguez, Staff Writer

Before this year, most, if not all, people thought the only football players at risk for brain damage and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) were those in the NFL. A study conducted by the NFL earlier this year refuted that idea: the study revealed that around 21 percent of players who only play the sport at the high school have at least the beginning stages of CTE.

In response, many high schools have began cutting their football programs entirely. Over the last two years alone, roughly 2.5 percent of high schools in the U.S have cut or suspended their football programs, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Many high schools, such as Mission San Jose High School in Fremont, have stopped their programs due to lack of participation.

The administration’s decision to cut the program came as no surprise to the school; the number of players had fallen from 99 players to 40 within one year, losing nearly 60 percent of their program.

In an interview in “The Mercury News,” Roger Blake, Executive of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), explained the reasons behind the decline.

“The reason I think the youth football numbers have dropped is due to the issue of concussions,” Blake said. “Parents, rightfully so, are asking questions and have concerns.”

As participation continues to decline, the NFL instituted a new concussion protocol that keeps a player out of contact until he has been cleared by a league doctor.

The sport of football has also eliminated certain plays deemed riskier to make the game safer, but the long-term effects of head injuries have become challenging for the sport to defend. Kids are now choosing other sports that are safer than football.

With recent tests confirming that high school players could have substantial brain degeneration, many parents and players themselves have begun questioning the costs and benefits of playing football.

“I don’t fear [CTE], but I do understand the seriousness of the issue and always try to play as safe as possible,” senior varsity football offensive/defensive tackle Greg Evans said. “I just don’t let it affect me during my games.”

Evans suffered a concussion from football last year and hasn’t had any follow-up tests for signs of brain damage, or CTE.

Football is a staple of high school sports, having the most participation in schools nationwide. But according to a study by National Federation of State High School Associations, as of this year, track and field participation has surpassed football in California.

Baseball may have been America’s sport, but it’s not the 1920s anymore. Football has been America’s sport since the Super Bowl era began in 1967. Now, even football may be falling out of the spotlight.