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High school football participation in California continues to drop

Football is still the most popular sport among California high school students, but it's not longer as popular as it used to be.

The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) announced Thursday that 91,305 high school students played football in 2018, a drop of 3.1 percent from 2017.

That's down further from the 103,725 kids that played in 2014.

While each player who walks away from football or never steps on the field in the first place will have his own reasons, the Los Angeles Times found most non-players were lumped into three buckets:

1. Fear of traumatic brain injuries. Though the sport is getting safer, it's going to take years for the data to catch up with public perception, particularly among a certain subset of parents.

2. Those darn phones and/or video games. Call this the Pat Fitzgerald group. Why go work out in the heat for two hours when your XBox is right there in the next room? “There are a lot who don’t want to put in the work to accomplish something,” high school freshman Daniel Hill told the LA Times. “They want immediate satisfaction.”

3. One-sport specialization. As The System puts more pressure on kids to pick one sport and one sport only earlier and earlier in their athletic lives, kids are more often dropping football than other sports.

And, well, if you're not financially tied to the sport of football, it makes sense why kids would drop football if the choice is between that and another sport. Football is hard. Football is demanding. The practice-to-game ratio is way, way out of whack when compared to basketball, baseball and soccer. No other sport asks more of your body than football.

Of course, we in the football public know the sacrifice is worth the work, but many outside the game don't -- as the numbers show. It's on us, both on a micro and macro level, to educate the public that the work is worth it.

Read the full piece here.