Today’s Decline In Youth Football Participation
By: Jeff Lightsy Jr.
According to ESPN, Pop Warner, the nation’s largest Youth football organization has seen a 9.5% decline in participants over the past two years. The main causes for such a great decline are concussions in head injuries. The decline started in 2010 when the NFL first recognized the connection between concussions and long term neurologic problems. Then in 2011 former Chicago Bears defensive back Dave Duerson committed suicide but shot himself in the chest to preserve his brain so that test could be ran and find out why he went into depression. After the test results were complete it was found that Duerson had suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) which is a brain disease linked to playing football.
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My concern isn’t with Pop Warner because they will continue to make money. My concern isn’t with the NFL because there will still be enough men out there willing to risk their health to make millions of dollars. My concern is more with our young black men and our community. Right now, all we have are the numbers that say that football participation is declining. Now my question is, what are our young black boys doing now? If less are playing football, where does that leave these young men? That’s a simple answer is: in the streets. Sports are activities that keep young black men busy and away from the streets. If a young black boy’s favorite sport is football but his parents will no longer let him play because of these findings what is he supposed to do? In a world where black men already have two strikes against them, this decline in youth football could potentially have a great impact on the black community.
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