State high school football turnout trending down - – Rockford’s News Leader

State high school football turnout trending down


Football season is on the horizon. Players are in pads, going helmet to helmet. But it may be that helmet to helmet action that's putting less bodies on the sidelines and more in the stands.

As studies showing the long-term effects of high impact sports continue to surface, the number of participants in football continue to dwindle which begs the question, are we talking about cause or coincidence?

"I really don't think that has anything to do with it at the high school level.  The NFL it's a different game.  The guys are bigger, they're faster.  In all the years I've been here, we've had a handful of concussions," said Mel Gilfillan.

Guilford Head Coach Mel Gilfillan says numbers are down but it's not because of a fear of getting hurt. In the past we've been in the mid-50s.  So I would say it's down a little bit but its where we'd like it to be."

Across the state, numbers are down as well. According to the Illinois High School Association, since the 2007-2008 school year participation in football has dropped by nearly 4,000 athletes.

Mat Parker thinks the reason is, in part, because of more studies on the long-term effects of head shots.

"An issue that more and more parents are aware of. Some pretty significant studies have come out from the long-term effects of blows to the head, not just in football, but in hockey and boxing and UFC."

Parker says the more parents know, the less likely they are to allow their student-athlete on the field.

"Because of the increase of media attention there's certainly been an increase of parent awareness and therefore decision making directly attributed to that information."

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