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.
We should encourage kids to play multiple sports. No evidence that early specialization helps kids...& they are forced to choose one sport over another & many choose 🏀 b/c it's perceived as safer than 🏈. And many 🏀 coaches discourage any sport that precedes 🏀 season - like 🏈— Dr. Nickey Woods (@NickeyWoods) August 1, 2019
Football is ridiculously dangerous with symptoms that occur decades later. That’s why parents aren’t letting boys play. And yet, the pride, the athleticism, the bonding, the fun all go down the drain too.— tony soltis (@tonysoltis) August 2, 2019
One of the biggest factors is football has become non stop training/practicing... everyone has to keep up with xyz HS so it’s just more more more. The summer is a grind and I feel bad for the kids at times because it hasn’t always been this way— Brett Dudley (@CoachBDud) August 1, 2019
Mothers will determine the sport's future.— Dave Birkett (@birkett_dave) August 1, 2019
#1 find science that shows positive safety improvements and spread the word as loud as the shock and awe based media. #2 investigate and enforce transfer rules. #3 educate parents and players early on about the realities of earning scholarships.— Michael Ballestero (@CoachBallestero) August 1, 2019
I experienced this from the parent perspective a little the past couple of years. The two biggest reasons kids quit playing football is cost and playing time. It's way too expensive to be on a high school team and the kids who don't play give up.— Starfish and coffee (@thaddock) August 2, 2019
I have a couple of thoughts I'd like to share on this— Vinny Fazio (@VFaz31) August 1, 2019
Firstly, football is safer than ever but not without risk. It is also a very physically demanding game that requires a lot of hard training for comparatively few games and delayed gratification. It's not for everyone
Here comes TRUTH speak....It’s not they’re not playing for fear of injury....They’re not playing because technology has given more things to do with less work....🏈 has no shortcuts and you MUST put in the work....They don’t want to work that hard, goes for all sports....— Dennis Gregovich (@GregoDaGr8) August 2, 2019
My boy practices Fortnite 10hrs a day .Which is what you have to do to be good. Fortunately it has been paying off form him. Not sure if he will play football again. pic.twitter.com/t0GoaYwycN— The Biz ✨ (@Robert_Boop) August 2, 2019
91,305 is a a 20 -year low per NFHS.— Kent Johnson (@37919KJ) August 1, 2019
In fall of 1998 NFHS reported 91,301 CA players.
The 5- year decline is 11.98% and steady. pic.twitter.com/Ou3xdeUDEF
Hire more full time athletic trainers and give them licensure in CA which will actually let them do their jobs instead of constantly passing laws that tie our hands & discourage athletes from being honest about their injuries for fear of being held out? Just a thought...ATforALL— LoveMeSomeFootball (@saintsneedtowin) August 2, 2019
Find a way to play that doesn't require you to use your braincase as a bludgeon.— FearNo Barbie-Troll (@RozehnalMd) August 2, 2019
I feel like football in general has become too focused on the next-level. It makes parents and kids question why they support/play if they’re not going to pull a scholarship from it. It’s rare to find player-run locker rooms and teams that play for each other in SoCal IMO.— John Dillon (@DillonIG) August 2, 2019
The problem is ten fold starting with participation at the youth level . Too many youth all star teams next marginally talented players r no longer willing to put in the hrs of time and practice to not play so they move on . Video games etc. specialization on one sport . 7v7— dan waitman (@DWaitman) August 1, 2019