Last season, red flags were raised when Kenmore East High was forced to forfeit its season opener in football because it didn’t have 16 healthy players and, therefore, failed to meet minimum participation requirements. Lake Shore was aggressively recruiting kids to play this year.
In football-mad Western New York, where the Bills rule, you would think kids would be eager to play the sport. Participation has plummeted over the past decade. Some programs have been forced to merge. Most schools would be satisfied with 25 players on their rosters. In previous generations, that many kids were cut.
It’s not an indictment of the schools or the kids. More than anything, it’s an indictment of the sport. Football has been on trial for years in the Court of Public Opinion. Parents have encouraged their kids to play other sports.
Right or wrong, the game has suffered. I’m not sure it will ever fully recover. You can’t help but wonder if schools will start examining costs, risk of injury and lack of interest and conclude it’s not worthwhile. As far as the game has fallen over the past decade, I’m not sure it has bottomed out.