Something is happening in our high schools, something that has the adults troubled and perplexed. It's not drugs or twerking, It is apathy, they apathetic about football, the God of all high school sport, the cornerstone of school spirit. In my high school days, this would be as unthinkable as the current trend of teens being apathetic towards driving.
Everyone has something to blame, it's those evil video games or kids today are just lazy (because of those evil video games) and don't to want to put in the work. Or it is because boys today are too soft and are being "feminized". Then there is the concussion issue, which unlike all the others has real merit. It could be a bunch of these issues, but as I do more and more research I am seeing something different in this current generation of High Schoolers.
There is one stark difference, unlike my generation, these students have far more access to information then I ever did, I graduated HS in 1995 and did not get my first exposure to the internet until my freshman year in college in 1996. These students were born after I started college, and grew up with the world wide web and now have it in the palm of their hands. It is the reason why religiosity is in decline with Gen Y, because they are getting information, reviewing it and coming to the conclusion that religion is by and large a bunch of bull.
You think that these students not playing the sport are missing out on a great experience, learning values and important life lessons like team work, and perseverance etc. Well these teens have examined the issue and learned a new lesson, Get a return on your investment. They see that football requires a high level of effort, hard strenuous practices, year long strength training. For what in return? To get benched on most games, to play for a HS team that loses all the time. The conclusion is this, The workload is heavy, time and energy that needs to be spent is great for something where the rewards are few if any. What about college you can get a scholarship, here is the truth only 2% of youth athletes get college scholarships, most of those are partial ones as those vaunted full ride deals are practically non-existent.
Then there is the concussion issue, rewards are few but the consequences of those long hard hours are great. Lifelong health issues from injuries, from bad backs, torn ligaments and bum knees then the nightmare of Concussions and the disease of CTE. Which has caused the deaths of many NFL legends and other living retirees to say they will never let their sons follow the same path. When Brett Farve says it, that cuts deep into the psyche of teens and their parents. Unwillingness to play this sport is not out of laziness, but simple economics, it is understandable they want to get out more than what they invested in. Football just does not offer that, it is a bad investment of time and energy compounded with real risks.
Another reason, as a mentioned above with religion, today's teens getting more and more easily accessible information from the web. They are getting more informed, smarter and more literate than their parents and grandparents. Fact is, they just might be too smart for football. Football like MMA are violent sports that are visceral, physical and are tied into the hyper-masculine culture. This is a culture that appeals to men of a certain lower educational level, this culture of violence appeals to those in environments that lack quality educational institutions. These teens raised on computers, video games are more cerebral orientated thus have no appetite for real violence.
Case in point 2013, The Elite Lawrenceville Prep school in New Jersey announced that they will end their 100 year plus House Tackle Football will and be replaced by flag football. The alumni cried betrayal as they abandoned this hallowed tradition and Rush Limbaugh and Daily Caller cried this was a liberal plot to destroy football and all other institutions of manliness in the agenda of feminizing boys. Yet we did not hear a peep out of the current students, the drivers of this policy change. Just like High School teams, the Houses (dorms) were having trouble getting enough kids to field an 8 man team. These new teens are just not interested, it is not "wussification", "feminization" or kids getting soft. Boys are not getting more feminized just more civilized. This is a change that should be celebrated as a societal triumph.
It is a change that means we have a new generation of boys will will mature into men who will not become wife beaters and child abusers. But rather be parents who raise their children though intelligence not ignorant cruelty. The trend that is killing high school football could be also spelling doom for domestic violence and child abuse in the next 25 years, we could be winning the fight on what is one of our great societal cancers, football and MMA could be collateral damage.
As we get smarter, we actually get less violent. We see this in society at large, communities that have a good educational system have lower violent crime rates, go to any crime ridden ghetto what do you see lack of good schools. Here is where we can blame video games...for making teens LESS violent, popular games like the Call of Duty series feeds those same visceral desires but in a safer and more convenient manner, thus eliminating the need for teens to strap on helmet and pads and slam into each other. I bet you the farm if the Houses in Lawrenceville had LAN parties for COD Advanced Warfare tournament this fall, the number of volunteers would be staggering.
We are seeing it in civilization at large, as the world becomes more and
more scientifically advanced VIOLENCE decreases and so does our
tolerance for it. In this current conflict the USA is in, it has lasted longer than Vietnam, but with a fraction of the KIA, yet people call it a blood bath. More US soldiers died taking Normandy on D-Day than the entire War on Terror. Today when 10 soldiers die in an IED attack we call for our troops to come home. 100 years ago thousands on young men were thrown into the meat grinder of WWI, in battles that were even more pointless. Just like WWI, football tries to recruit young men into its ranks by the same methods.
It is a great adventure that will build boys into better strong men,
like that Great War we are starting to see the reality. The War did not take
boys and build them up into men, it just broke them. Sent them back
wounded and shell shocked, Football takes healthy boys and sends them back as men wounded and brains
ravaged by dementia.