Youth football programs: Reasons for concern
- August 4, 2012 - 9:28 PM
Had 400 playing youth football, grades second through eighth, last year; down to 325 this year. President Brian Williams said NFL concussion worries have "certainly not helped our situation."
After two years of 10 percent annual gains, enrollment dipped from 750 players last year to 725 this year. Though director Tim Suess downplayed concussion fears as a factor, the issue is "definitely going to change how we do things." League buying 150 helmets annually, compared to 30 to 40 a year previously.
Despite a late surge in signups, director John Griffin said the league was down by half a team per grade in tackle football. Before the late signups, he said, "we were at ridiculously low numbers." Fifth- and sixth-graders getting top-of-the-line helmets this year.
Despite high school team winning another state championship, youth football signups down by 20 percent this year. League bought 650 helmets two years ago, and now has emergency medical technicians on the sidelines.
As signups have fallen for a second consecutive year, league has spent $31,000 on 400 new helmets. Last year, 175 players had concussion baseline testing after parents were asked to make a $5 donation.
© 2013 Star Tribune