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Football Takes Another Hit

August 8th, 2017 · No Comments · Football, Long Beach

Long Beach Poly has one of Southern California’s top prep football programs. The school has won 19 regional championships at the top level of competition and has sent more than 60 players to the NFL and hundreds to college football.

But this year Long Beach Poly does not have enough kids out for football to field a junior varsity team — for the first time in 110 years.

This comes after a 3 percent decline in boys playing football in California, from 2015 to 2016.

And the erosion of participants in tackle football comes as more attention is given to the potential for brain injuries by those who play the game — an issue so pressing and dangerous that I believe it threatens the long-term success of the professional football game.

It may be happening even faster than I thought when I suggested the NFL as we know it is on its way to extinction.

When a program like Long Beach Poly cannot field a JV team …

The top coach at Long Beach Poly did not cite fear of brain damage as a reason for the decline in numbers, but we are allowed to think some of it is about parents who will not allow their kids to play.

The coach told the Long Beach Press Telegram that 130 freshmen turned out for football six years ago, but this summer that number is down to 40.

Poly will still have a frosh-soph team, and 60 boys are playing on the varsity. Which seems like decent numbers — except that Poly has an enrollment of some 4,000 students … and that two other schools (Cabrillo and Compton) in Poly’s league also will not field JV teams.

I suggested in the item from last month that tackle football would wither from the lower levels on up, and this could be an example of it.

The four schools in Poly’s league that still play JV football will have to scramble to find games to fill the gaps left by their three Moore League brethren. And when scheduling becomes an issue, athletic directors are going to consider not playing games, and then the season becomes truncated …

And, the whole thing spirals down.

As noted last month, I played high school football and I take no pleasure in the game’s decline. But the weight and expense of brain trauma suffered by competitors … seems like a fatal flaw in the game that can be palliated only by some astonishing breakthrough in safety gear or by taking most of the hits out of the game — turning it into something more like flag or touch football.

Long Beach Poly, with no JV team?

This bears watching.




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