Participation in high school football down nationally - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Participation in high school football down nationally

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La Crosse, WI (WXOW) -

Participation in high school football is down across the country. That's according to a survey from the National Federation of State High School Associations that shows participants dropped by nearly 26,000 during the 2016 school year.

Some teams in Wisconsin are feeling that drop.

"In the last 2 days there have been 3 e-mails that came out of looking for varsity games," said Aquinas Head Coach Tom Lee."[They] need a game week 1, somebody needed a game week 3 because their opponents ended up dropping their 11-man program."

What may be to blame is a growing trend of specialization early on in students lives, focusing on only one sport year-round instead of being involved in many.

"Football seems to be the one to be dropped right away by a kid because for sure there is that possibility of injury," Lee said.

The lower numbers have an effect beyond high school for those who rely on steady programs in recruitment efforts.

"There's some places we'll see maybe in some larger cities where you're gonna have a school that's either close to or over 2000 students that might only have a hundred kids out for football 9 through 12," said UW-La Crosse Head Coach Mike Schmidt. "You see that around and that's discouraging I think a little bit."

But where does the specialization come from? Some argue it's bad advice from larger lucrative programs.

"I think there are a lot of 40 and 50 year old men making money on the dreams of 15, 16 and 17 year old boys, dangling scholarships in front of them," said Lee.

For now, those in the high school league will continue on and hope this dip in numbers is only temporary.

"We'd hope that it'll swing the other way," said Lee. "It's hard to say though."

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