Notes from around the Human Experience…
NFL = NOT FOR LONG: The evidence is hard to ignore: you play professional football, you get brain damage. We’ve talked before in this space about whether or not the National Football League (NFL) will be around in a generation or two and the more we think about it the more we think it may not.
The reason is there may not be enough decent players to field an entire 32-team league. High school and youth football participation numbers continue to decline. Not enough to herald an immediate end to the NFL, of course, but as more and more studies connect playing football with brain damage and as more and more former NFL players die too young and as more and more parents refuse to let their kids play football, it is not unreasonable to conclude the NFL might not be around forever.
Editor’s Note: since they are the most relevant to today’s Daily Dose, the following figures are for boys playing 11-man football.
Running The Numbers: In the 1969-70 school year, over 850,000 kids at 13,959 schools played high school football, according the National Federation of High School Athletic Associations (NF), the national governing body for high school sports in the US. Football participation peaked in the 2008-09 school year at 1.112 million kids and in 2015-16, the most recent year figures are available for, 1.083 million boys participated in 11-man football, down about 300 from the previous year.
For The Record: There are 1,349 schools – all west of the Mississippi River – that offer 6,8 or 9-man football, as well as over two thousand girls that play interscholastic football.
Those Were The Days: Also in 1969-70, 16 states reported that 263 students participated in interscholastic rugger, which is similar to rugby, and had 465 participants in 22 states that school year.
Dry, Technical Matter: The number of schools offering football is dropping, too, from a high of 14,279 in 2009-10, to 14,071 in 2015-16. Also,youth football participation has dropped between a quarter and a third this decade, depending on who you believe.
Circumstantially, these numbers do not herald an immediate end to football as we know it. Intrinsically, however, they are troublesome.
Fly In The Ointment: Fewer high school players mean fewer lower level programs, meaning kids who really aren’t ready for it will be playing varsity ball. More kids will be playing both offense and defense. Fewer youth and middle school football players means kids that do show up for the first day of practice their freshman year are less prepared for high school football. All of these factors make it likely that more and more kids will not stick around for four years of high school football.
The Bottom Line: Friends, once this cycle gets some traction, participation numbers will start to plummet and in time not only will there be fewer kids playing football, there will be fewer good players playing football and in time, perhaps within a generation, the quality of play – and interest – in major college and professional football will decrease.
CAN THE LOBBYISTS BE FAR BEHIND: The Virginia House of Burgesses, the first elected representative assembly in what would become the United States, meets for the first time on this date in 1619.
Meeting at the church in Jamestown, 22 members showed up for a scheduled six-day session, thought a malaria outbreak means not much was accomplished.
Some Places Have Interns For This: The House of Burgesses would meet until 1776, when the colony of Virginia became a commonwealth and the House of Burgesses became the House of Delegates.
The End Is Near: Yielding a Supreme Court ruling from July 24, President Richard Nixon releases White House tapes that were under court subpoena on this date in 1974.
The tapes are not of Nixon and his aides ordering lunch. Among other things, they show Nixon and John Dean clearly discussing the cover-up and hush money payments. Nixon would resign the presidency on August 9.
The End Of An Era: After 65 years and 21,529,464 cars, the final VW Beetle rolls off the assembly line in Puebla, Mexico on this date in 2003. The Beetle remains the longest produced and most manufactured car ever produced.
FunFact: The Beetle was designed by Ferdinand Porsche on orders from Adolf Hitler to produce a simple, cheap car. Volkswagen would produce the Beetle for the United States until 1977 and Europe until 1985.
Quote Book: Would he spend the rest of his life here…watching hope slip away along with the years, until there was nothing left to live for and time had finally run out? – Alex Haley, Roots
Answer To The Last Trivia Question: Prince Charles has been the heir apparent to the British throne since his mother, Queen Elizabeth II became queen in 1952. He is longest serving heir apparent in British history.
Today’s Stumper: When was the first National Football League game played? – Answer next time!