Football is still the most popular sport on American television, but the thrill of the game seems somehow diminished.
Professional football has taken some serious hits during the past few years: divisive political controversies, misconduct of players, the continued and illogical denial by the NFL of links between on-field play and concussion effects, low ratings, and most recently a boring and ratings deprived Super Bowl.
College football has many of the NFL’s problems but still has difficulties with a culture that protects rather than confronts rapists and sexual abuse and a system that fails to compensate players adequately for the vast revenue they generate.
The real problem for football, however, may reside at the high school level and below. Fewer and fewer kids are participating. The Guardian story cited below begins with the case of Manassas Park High School in Virginia, which had to cancel its football program this year because there weren’t enough players to field a team.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), high school football participation in the United States is down 6.1% over the last decade, falling from 1.14m players in 2008 to 1.07m in 2017. That decline has occurred even as overall high school sports participation has increased by 5.9% over the same span, rising to 7.98m athletes in 2017. In addition, youth tackle football – a feeder system for high schools – has seen a 17.4% participation drop among children ages six to 12 over the past five years, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. Source: As the Super Bowl approaches, is high school football dying a slow death? | Sport | The Guardian
This article is a good roundup of the challenges facing football and, if you are interested in the topic, well worth reading.