Tuesday, April 16, 2013

American Football Declining?


I have to admit that I was surprised to see the article below a few days ago. Here in the U.S.A. the game we call football (we call the game the rest of the world calls football, soccer here) dominates the sporting landscape. The revenue generated from filling stadiums with fans each Fall along with booster donations, pretty much funds the rest of the sports at most high schools and universities. Football drives the strength and conditioning programs as the facility design, and scheduling access are determined by the desires of the football staff. Football players receive the greatest amount of recognition and rewards from society and from the schools they represent.

The article claims a large drop in participation here in our state of Arizona. I'm not sure that I have actually seen such a drop in our area, although I have to say that the quality of athlete seems to have dropped some in the last few years. I coached football for 23 years and have been out of it for about 9 years now. On some of the last teams I coached we had every player capable of a minimum 100 kg. clean. Now our local team might have two players who are able to do that. Double bodyweight squats were the norm, now they are rare. This decline is not limited to football either. The track results also show similar deterioration. I recently officiated the Discus at a varsity track meet with 20 teams and didn't even have 9 boys throw over 100 ft. The winning distance was 119 ft. This all concerns me.
While I think that maybe the increased coverage of concussions may have something to do with the decline in football participation, I fear that the major cause is lack of desire by many of our youth to do anything physically challenging. It is easier to play fantasy football on the computer than it is to prepare and practice. While our best athletes are better than ever in many ways, with improved training and nutritional knowledge and resources, the numbers who are actually taking advantage are decreasing. Here in the U.S., during the last election, much was made of the growing gap between the rich and the poor. I can see some validity in that. Well, I also see a growing gap between the few who value physical health and strength and those who think it has become obsolete in our techno world.

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