Friday, August 19, 2016

Illinois high school football...

...starts a week from tonight, but you would barely know it if you read the Chicago newspapers.

In the past, I would eagerly await each paper's countdown of the Top Twenty or Twenty-five teams beginning in early or mid-August. But this year? Mostly crickets.

As far as I can tell, the most recent article on high school football in the Tribune was from last Monday. When I asked its author, Mike Clark, on Twitter, "Isn't the @chicagotribune going to do a countdown of the Top Twenty football teams this year?," I didn't get an answer.

I asked the same question of the Sun-Times's Michael O'Brien and got this response, "We will have a top 5 teams countdown and then the top 10 defenders, receivers, RB and QB's."

Is this due to budget cuts or is interest in high school football waning?

Yesterday I received this text from a friend who teaches at a suburban Catholic grammar school:

[We] couldn't field a varsity football team this year. First time in 45-50 years. Some Catholic grade schools pulling kids from 2-3 schools to make a team.

Is there something going on here? Are parents holding their kids back from playing football? Are kids losing interest in the sport? And, if so, what implications does that have for the future of the game? And the future of the NFL? After all, if fewer kids play football won't that hurt the quality in high school, college and eventually the pros?

I don't know if it's my imagination or not, but I think the quality of high school football in Illinois has gone down a little. And I, for one, am not as excited for the season as I usually am.

When my dad was a kid boxing and horse racing were two of the biggest sports in America. When was the last time you went to either? Are we witnessing the beginning of the end for football? I know, I know -- it's crazy; the NFL has never been healthier. But, as we used to say on the Merc floor (which also went away), markets always look best at the top.


The Truest said...

It's awful BOWG, awful. Even the Daily Herald which had an awesome football section is empty. It reminds me of those ghost cities in China.

Ed Crotty said...

I have heard last year that Neuqua Valley was down to a single Freshman A squad - no B, no C. That's a school with almost 1000 freshman males - only getting 25 out for football? People are concerned about head trauma.