Changes, they are a comin'

I'll start with my prediction I made a year ago: in 10 years youth tackle football won't exist at pre-high school ages. As a coach in two sports (hockey and football) that are high risk of concussions, I've been in the trenches with parents, coaches, and leagues with increasing concern about putting kids in harm's way and risking long-term impact of head injuries. It's been noted that Pee Wee football registration has dropped due to concerns of concussions. I'm in this group. A few years back it was expected my youngest and his peers would start Pee Wee football in second grade. Instead (my son is in third grade) they are still playing flag football, and we have no plans to put him in tackle. Apparently others feel the same, as participation in flag football is up about 33% across the east side (Seattle east suburbs) this spring.

And the NFL is not done with its lawsuits. From a business perspective, the NFL can view concussion settlements as a cost of doing business and they can still be profitable. But can the NCAA? Sure the major schools can afford it, but what about the dozens of schools that already lose money on football and college athletics? So hard choices will be made in the college ranks.

Will high schools be able to afford the insurance down the road? I don't know. I don't know the economics of high school sports (other than Bellevue High School pays their HS coach upwards of $160k/yr - wow). But, I can't see how it will be possible under the high school level for any organization to be solvent. So many kids. So much recklessness. We have head-to-head collisions and concussions in flag football and hockey, and that's with kids trying to avoid contact. Insurance is so high in youth hockey that it severely limits organizing hockey games outside of an organization that has anything short of 16 hours of coach training a year.

Think I'm crazy about the sport disappearing? It's already starting. In Texas of all places.

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