West Valley (N.Y.) High football coach Rick DeKay says, "You
can't rally around a soccer team." Didn't he notice all those
folks in France last summer?
--DAVID ARNOLD, Highland Heights, Ky.
This is an article from the Dec. 21, 1998 issue
The sharp decline in high school football participation is
shocking (Unintentional Grounding, Nov. 16). Kids fail to
realize that they will never retrieve those years. It has been
more than two decades since I was the senior quarterback at
Crawford (Neb.) High, but I still have nightmares about what I
lost out when I skipped my junior season to concentrate on
basketball. I can play hoops any night at the YMCA. It doesn't
work that way in football.
BENJAMIN J. EICHER, Rapid City, S.Dak.
Football taught me how to work within a team concept and allowed
me to experience camaraderie out of which has grown lifelong
friendships. How sad it is to note the dwindling number of
youngsters who will benefit from playing this great game.
ANTHONY T. RIGGS, Bahama, N.C.
Small schools should consider combining their football programs
with those of other small schools. This beats pushing the game on
kids who don't want to play it.
MICHAEL KEATING, Worcester, Mass.
High school football participation may be declining because it's
dangerous. Why should my son risk serious injury when he can
receive the same emphasis on discipline, sportsmanship and
teamwork in other sports?
JERRY SCHWARTZ, Chamblee, Ga.
So what if high school football disappears? After reading your
piece, one feels that the people who really care about this are
those at colleges and in the NFL. In the words of the NFL's
director of football operations, Gene Washington, the league is
worried about its "labor pool."
RAY CASTRO, New York City
As a Pop Warner coach I see the declining numbers as well, and
the biggest reason is this: Football requires the most
discipline of any team sport, and kids don't react well to
discipline anymore. They're not getting enough of it at home,
and if they don't have to listen to their parents, why should
they listen to their coaches?
SALVATORE A. CAPACCIO, Englewood, Fla.
Let's face it. Kids want to play sports in which they aren't
restricted by silly rules and strict regimes. They want to dunk
like Jordan, dribble like Ronaldo and do ollies like Rodil de
Araujo. They don't want to stand in a muddy field for hours
without ever touching the ball, and girls no longer want to
freeze to death cheering them on.
NICHOLAS ETHERTON, London
Football may be a traditional sport in this country, but it's
not the only sport. To question whether a kid will "ever be an
active member of his community" if he doesn't play football is
going off the deep end.
KEN CHERTOFF, New York City
The timing of your story was ironic. Just a few days before you
went to press, 46,474 fans poured into the Orange Bowl for a
Friday night game between Miami Northwestern and Miami
Jackson--the second-largest high school crowd in Florida
MARK MORING, Carol Stream, Ill.
UCLA's Danny Farmer is a top two-sport college athlete (INSIDE
COLLEGE FOOTBALL, Nov. 16), but his father, George, was an even
more impressive three-sport star almost 30 years ago. He was a
second-team All-America receiver, a member of the Bruins' 1969
national championship basketball team, and a sprinter and
hurdler on the track team.
J. MARC ROSEN, Aiea, Hawaii
You let one two-sport star slip past you (INSIDE COLLEGE
FOOTBALL, Nov. 16). Playing one sport at the Naval Academy is
hard enough, but Jamie Doffermyre has excelled in both football
and lacrosse. He is a defenseman in lacrosse and led the
Midshipmen in tackles this season from his position as a safety
ALEX MURRAY, Annapolis, Md.