Coaches, fans, parents react to 20-year low in California football participation

Players and coaches gather Friday for the first Trinity League football media day.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

One day after the California Interscholastic Federation released its annual survey showing a 20-year low in student participation in high school football, six schools gathered for the first Trinity League media day in Long Beach on Friday. Asked if they had any suggestions to reverse the trend, only one coach, Troy Thomas of Servite, offered an idea. Thomas said working with youth teams to encourage and train young players is appropriate.

Trinity League teams aren’t exactly hurting in filling their rosters. All six are in Southern Section Division 1. But based on Twitter reaction from the survey, concerns about a steady decline in football participation are real among many others in Southern California and beyond. And word broke on Friday that Oxnard Santa Clara is the latest school to drop its 11-man team and switch to eight-man football after only 16 students went out for football, according to the Ventura County Star.

Not everyone is having to scramble to fill rosters. San Clemente has 86 freshmen out for football. Chino Hills has more than 60 freshmen out for football, the most in coach Chris Stevens’ four years as head coach.

As for reaction and suggestions, the issue provokes strong comments and passionate debate.