Losing youth players could mean football in decline

college footballby Monica’s Dad

This Is How You Lose Her
[Via Ta-Nehisi Coates : The Atlantic]

Given Junior Seau and Dave Duerson, given Tony Dorsett and Brett Favre, and given that these men were the heroes to the kind of parents who would have once put their kids in Pop Warner, this can’t be surprising:

According to data provided to “Outside the Lines,” Pop Warner lost 23,612 players, thought to be the largest two-year decline since the organization began keeping statistics decades ago. Consistent annual growth led to a record 248,899 players participating in Pop Warner in 2010; that figure fell to 225,287 by the 2012 season.

Pop Warner officials said they believe several factors played a role in the decline, including the trend of youngsters focusing on one sport. But the organization’s chief medical officer, Dr. Julian Bailes, cited concerns about head injuries as “the No. 1 cause.”

“Unless we deal with these truths, we’re not going to get past the dropping popularity of the sport and people dropping out of the sport,” said Bailes, a former Pittsburgh Steelers neurosurgeon whose 10-year-old son, Clint, plays Pop Warner outside Chicago. “We need to get it right.”

I think that point about truths is exactly right. The NFL has a long history of lying about head injury, its effects and its connection to football. 


Seeing a decrease of 10% in 2 years is a bad sign. That many of these are due to worry about concussions is not surprising.

I wrote about what the end of football might look like, especially if insurance companies raise premiums due to brain injuries. The financial exposure of high schools or Pop Warner might become too great to carry on.

A few more years of this and high school football could be affected. A couple more and college will.

Over a year ago Pop Warner made changes to start dealing with this. I wonder if it will help. You’ll notice that the same Julian Bailes is quoted in both articles.