Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lights out? Forsaking Football in the Land of Gridiron Giants

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lights out? Forsaking Football in the Land of Gridiron Giants

Article excerpt

More than a sign of the times, it's a sign of concern. Here in the land of Dan Marino, Joe Namath, Joe Montana and Mike Ditka, fewer high school students are opting to play football.

Coaches say a big reason is parents concerned about concussions.

Although the trend has not been enough to dim those Friday Night Lights, the falling numbers are striking. The Post-Gazette's Mike White reported last week that many of the WPIAL's teams have smaller squads than 10 years ago. At Woodland Hills High School, the number of players fell from 94 in 2003 to 62 this year, a 34 percent drop. Other schools have seen similar declines: Baldwin, 27 percent; Shaler, 27 percent; North Hills, 25 percent; Fox Chapel, 21 percent.

This is not unique to Western Pennsylvania, a reliable reservoir of scholastic football talent. It tracks with a national pattern in which 25,000 fewer students are playing the game today than were five years ago.

Besides fear of serious injuries like concussions, other reasons for adolescents leaving the gridiron are the year-round demands of conditioning and the proliferation of other sports -- all understandable from a mother's and father's point of view. …

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