October 13, 2017

JOBS WHITE PEOPLE WON'T DO:

Football's decline has some high schools disbanding teams (Ben Nuckols, 10/13/17, AP)

The risks of football have never been more apparent. This summer, researchers at Boston University said they'd found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of the 202 former football players they studied. The athletes whose brains were donated to the study had played football in the National Football League, college and even high school.

The report doesn't confirm chronic traumatic encephalopathy, known as CTE, is common in all football players, because many donors or their families participated in the study because of the players' troubling symptoms.

After years of denials, the NFL acknowledged a link between head blows and brain disease and agreed in 2015 to a $1 billion settlement to compensate former players who had accused the league of hiding the risks.

"There's no question about it. The amount of publicity, beginning with the NFL and what you see on national news, has caused concern among parents," said Bob Gardner, the NFHS executive director. "Probably some who would have been more inclined to let their young men play, maybe are making different decisions now."

A study published last month in the medical journal Translational Psychiatry showed that kids who played football before age 12 were more than twice as likely to have mood and behavior problems.

The news hasn't escaped the parents at Centennial, one of the top-rated public high schools in Maryland, where 97 percent of students go on to college after they graduate. Just 10 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, an indicator of poverty.

"Families around here are more into academics," Zach said.

Maryland is one of 14 states where participation in football was down 10 percent or more over the past five years, according to NFHS data. In all, 41 states saw a decline between the 2011-12 and 2016-17 school years, and just nine states and the District of Columbia saw increases.

In West Windsor Township, New Jersey, which borders Princeton University and has a median household income of $137,000, one of the two public high schools dropped varsity football this year, and the other might have to do the same next year.

Trinity High School in Manchester, New Hampshire, also disbanded its varsity team, with hopes that it could return in a lower division next year.

At the first practice, the team "had three seniors, one junior, 12 sophomores and one freshman," athletic director Chip Polak told the New Hampshire Union Leader in August. "Two of the seniors have never played any kind of organized football and the other senior is dealing with concussion symptoms."

Posted by at October 13, 2017 3:40 PM

  

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