HS Football Participation Down

(photo supplied / Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation)

High school football is fairly stable in Indiana, though many other states are reporting drops in participation. The number of high school students dropped for the fifth year in a row, said the annual survey by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

But, in Indiana, the decline has been noticeable, but not dramatic, said Bobby Cox, commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletics Assoc.

“In certain situations, numbers are declining in some of our football programs,” said Cox. “Overall over the last five years our numbers have declined. But, part of that is because we’ve had some school closures.”

Cox said he believes the drop has been small, and that the numbers ebb and flow due to a number of factors.

“The obvious elephant in the room is the concern about concussions within football. That concern is shared in other sports as well, such as soccer and girls basketball and others,” said Cox. “In football particualrly, with the attention that’s been given to it, I think there are some parents and some student athletes that have shied away from the game.”

But, Cox said in some places the numbers have picked up.

“Sometimes that’s because of the energy and success that a football program experiences over the course of a few years.”

Cox said the biggest concern in numbers dropping is in smaller schools, where the concern is about whether they would have enough players, without having to resort to eight or nine man football, a measure that some states have taken, due to declining numbers.

Indiana has not sanctioned that kind of reduction, and has no need as of yet. But, that could be considered by the association, if the need arises.

The survey by the NFSHA, says the number across the country is the lowest since the 1999-2000 school year.