Inside Football Campaign to Save the Game

Inside Football Campaign to Save the Game

The population of the Maiden, the N.C, a population of 3,419, likes to call them the world's largest small town.

Maiden has a problem, however.

In 2008, Maiden High School football team looked like this.

This year, it's like this.

During 11 years, Maiden vandalism team has slowly fallen. What is happening here is happening all over the country. Nationally, high school participation in 11-man football has fallen by more than 10 percent since 2009.

It falls across the country: on the coasts and heart, in the Upper Midwest and in the Deep South, and in California, Florida and Texas.

Note: The participation numbers for the number of boys registered in the public school have been changed for each state. | Source: National Federation of High School Societies, National Center for Educational Statistics

Football has long been an integral part of American identity, and is likely to have been in existence for years. But there is controversy about safety, and it must compete more difficult every year with the popularity of other sports. In Maiden and elsewhere, the Friday nights and Saturday evenings remain, but they are now different.


Photos by Ryan Christopher Jones

November 7, 2019

The football locker room at Armagh.

On Christmas morning in 2017, some of the most powerful men in football at Midtown Hotel in New York gathered a vital mission: to save their sport.

Robert K. Kraft, owner of New England Patriots, was the N.F.L. commissioner, Roger Goodell. The Commissioners were from Power Society 5 athletics conferences in the room. So it was Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern head coach, and pair of Hall of Famers who met businesses, Roger Staubach and Archie Manning.

These men show that they were obliged to convene the meeting, an annual meeting of the National Football Foundation, in a strategy session to put pressure on the forces threatening their game, indicating that football has entered the last decade. . During that time, public awareness of the role of football in some types of long-term brain damage may be the kryptonite of sport.

There was no table-punching, no hand-dressing. But there was urgency.

“If we stand up for anything, it's about defending the game, so we do a job and do the work,” said Steve Hatchell, chief of the foundation, describing the mood in the room. that day.

Football is the most common high school sport among boys.

Football is always far from home. It generates a huge television audience each week, and more children play it than any other sport. But participation in youth leagues is falling. Over the past decade, the number of high school boys who played football to fight – heart and soul of the sport – fell more than 10 percent. The people who play the game are also changing, and the number of white players that reduces as black and Hispanic players and more plurality of the pool represents players.

White high school boys make a smaller share of the football players.

It is more difficult to measure as seen by the fans of the game, but it is clear that other football is against or against. Some states are considering whether young people should play the version of the game at all, as they consider the legislation to impose minimum age requirements for playing.

As research grows on the damage caused by football to young athletes and stories about diminished N.F.L. Major people are a vital part of the sports conversation, some parents are concerned that they may be putting their children at risk by allowing them to play football.

These forces present a significant challenge to ensuring the future of sport. Football participation is even unexpected, and soccer and cross-country running has grown significantly.

Football participation is down in states that the N.F.L.

In Texas, the state gave us $ 70 million high school stadiums and “Friday Night Night,” football participation is down 10 percent. Ohio is the fourth highest highest of N.F.L. players, but participation fell 27 percent in Buckeye State. Eight Ohio high schools were unable to fill a squad with eight-a-side football last year.

There has been a 13 per cent participation in Kansas, which is hit by budget cuts. With this decline, expensive football programs are now an easy target for school boards who are trying to save money. 12 schools are now playing football in the state.

Don Grill. Maiden, N.C.

One reason to the decline can not be described. Every sport specializes in injury, together with the growth of video games and e-sport.

However, it is also impossible to ignore the impact of health and safety, particularly in relation to brain injuries.

High school boys are not only nearly twice as likely to keep head injuries in football during a game compared to the next nearest sport, but are more likely to get a head injury in football than any other injury in any sport. is recorded in the Sports National School Injury Surveillance Study.

This is how Caine Houser, the director of athletics at Maiden High School in North Carolina, made the heart of his team's battle to summarize: “Parents are afraid that one has injuries, and so on. ”

Common injuries for boys among high-popular school sports

Injuries per 10,000 competitions play

The New York Times commissioned an online national poll of 1,000 boys aged 14 to 17 years of age. The survey, conducted by Pollfish found this fall, 9 percent of those who identified themselves as football players said that parents had expressed concern about head injuries, compared to 3 percent of the wrestlers and 2 percent of hockey players. Yet only 4 per cent of boys who had football quit said that personal concerns about head injuries were the main reason they went. One third of former players said they had lost interest, a third were busy with something else and 15 per cent said they started playing another sport.

Houser said that the number of players on the Maiden football team fell to 30 from 39 since 2008. The decline, he said, is worse in neighboring areas where junior varsity teams are closed. Parents are steering their children into a sport they can play throughout the year, such as basketball and basketball, so that they can make college staff.

While coaches have tried to address their concerns through new techniques to tackle teaching and monitor head injuries closely, Houser said that it might be very difficult when “the parents could what they won't take;

The wind trees are real, but the football is always operating from a strong place. In 2018, for example, nine of the top 10 most viewed championships were N.F.L. or college football games. The golden age of football can be debated, but it is debatable whether it is slowly declining, reviving or falling to fall.

Age football practice. Maiden High School. October 31, 2019.

In the coming weeks, The Times will examine the possession of American football, among children and their parents in the heart of the school, by public high schools and minority colleges.

A significant cultural shift in America would be a significant decline in the significance of football. The sport has long violated the real national hobby, both in terms of participation and fanaticism, and that it leaves the numbers falling right in real time how quickly the land can change.

In the mid-20th century, boxing and horse racing, then they did not suddenly ruled. The dynamics were little understood or examined – safety concerns were growing, and entertainment options were growing – as they went on.

The 30 or so of the National Football Foundation's board members in the room certainly understood that in the morning two months ago they had to try to change the situation regarding their game. They were all volunteers. They were all there on their own measure. Most had gone, and they learned the lessons they learned on the world for their benefit. They were savvy business people, and many of them were invested to keep a multi-dollar dollar industry at the top of the country's entertainment pyramid.

Friday night lights. High Virgin. November 1, 2019.

“Parents are worried about head injuries, and so on,” said Caine Houser, director of athletics at Morning High.

The organization was founded in 1947, when football was advancing, by war hero, coach and sports writer: Gen Douglas Douglasrthur; Army Coach, Red Blaik; and Grantland Rice of The New York Herald Tribune. They wanted to ensure that football was sacred in the American psyche. His mission was simple: to promote football as a way to shape future leaders through sports, competition and academic excellence.

By the end of the December 2017 meeting, the football power brokers decided to try to make this mission relevant in the 21st century.

Within weeks, Kraft and Jerry Jones, owner of The Dallas Cowboys and board member, along with Goodell, came on behalf of the N.F.L., up to a few hundred thousand dollars. The CC commissioners promised to set aside money from the Playoff Football College. Some doctors offered their counsel, including those suspected of research linking repeated head hits to degenerative brain diseases.

In practice overnight, perhaps the rebranding of football is the majority of the foundation's portfolio, near the College's Football Hero Hall to maintain and respect the academic achievements of collegiate football players.

By May 2018, the #FootballMatters campaign had begun to spread across multiple platforms. On the Football Matters website, there were resources for parents on changes to rules and safety progress; articles on leadership and teamwork and overcoming the poverty; and football-friendly data, for example the number of colleges that set up football teams (775, with a further seven being added by 2022) and the number of college players working on their master's degrees (1,439 out of approximately 73,000) t .

Every Friday, fans connecting to social media football courses receive “videos” of the high school coaches' pregame talks with their teams. For casual fans, there is a documentary about Polynesian football or a YouTube video of girls football girl in Utah.

Football is still a king of high school sports, despite reduced participation.

The five-year campaign has cost $ 2 million to date. The leaders of the institution say they are careful not to allow the N.F.L. and the N.C., or their main stage, are to the fore in a daily-oriented campaign. Is it working? It is too early to say. Television ratings are emerging after a period of decline, but participation has continued to decline.

“We are not going to change anyone's mind, but we hope to put football in a fuller context and give people lots of information to make their own decisions,” said Ken Luce, the founding partner of LDWW, the marketing agency. located in Dallas by running the campaign.

Others in sport who want to maintain the significance of football have discouraged their efforts to build a better helmet, but the human head structure – a hard skull, a soft brain – is challenging. Pop Warner is pushing the idea that combat can be safer, although many neurologists are suspicious. Staff and coach practices at all levels are decreasing because scientists warn more about the risk of success but concussions but repeatedly occurring head and body. No one knows how much is too much.

“There are lots of questions ahead – the biggest is that you can be hurt playing football,” said Hatchell, chief of the foundation. “But we decided to be a player in the conversation. To push back. ”

Hatchell admits that the foundation – and all boosts of the game – must be able to be neat and aggressive to tell people that their game is changing for the better. “It's still the most popular sport,” said Hatchell. “So how do we continue to build it?”

There is a reason why Maiden calls herself “the world's smallest football town.” T

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