Does Football Have a Future in High School?

Type: Article
Topics: Health & Wellness, School Administrator Magazine

March 31, 2023

Fewer schools field traditional 11-player teams owing to participation declines, parent concerns and injury risks

Week in and week out, administrators had to cancel high school football games throughout the fall 2022 season due to a lack of players.

It started in September with Northwest High School in Lincoln, Neb., where injuries to 15 players with uncertain recovery timelines left the roster depleted enough that the school was forced to forfeit the rest of its season.

Ten days later, Okemos High School in Michigan, which has 1,400 students, followed suit by canceling its last four varsity games and focusing on developing its junior varsity players.

On Oct. 5, Lisamarie Spindler, superintendent of the Hudson City School District in New York, announced her high school football team was unable to meet the New York State Public High School Athletic Association requirement that 17 players be physically able to compete. Hudson High School ended its season early.

The same day, Perry High School in Iowa came to the same decision after several player injuries left them unable to “safely field a team.” Perry Athletic Director Katelyn Whelchel announced the decision after consulting coaches, the Iowa High School Athletic Association, medical professionals and future opponents.

The following week, Jim Hicks, athletic director at 350-student Bellevue High School in Kentucky, announced his team had too few healthy players to compete. Bellevue bowed out of its remaining two games.

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Kevin Armstrong

Freelance sportswriter

Jersey City, N.J.