Washington Post: High school football participation continues to drop as concerns over cost, injuries persist

The problems facing high school football don’t appear to be going away, and according to new data released by the National Federation of State High School Associations, neither is the downward trend in participation. Scott Tainsky, who studies sports economics at Wayne State University, says football’s rough stretch isn’t over. Between television ratings and youth participation, the sport is in the midst of a “market correction,” he said. As the NFL raked in profits from media rights deals and became the nation’s preeminent professional sports league, football attracted TV viewers and young athletes away from other major sports. “We’re not a one-sport county, so if [football] took market share from some of the other sports, it’s going to give some back at some point,” Tainsky said. “There’s nowhere to go but down until the other major sports go away, and that’s not going to happen.” With football continuing to struggle with issues such as player safety and free political expression, consumers, including young athletes, are choosing to watch and play other sports. “The infrastructure does matter so much, but it’s important to look at these national trends and not give in to the thought that football is going to die,” Tainsky said. “All sports go through trends positive and negative.”

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