Horror stories circulating about football participation have been perpetuated with a constant flow of research studies, media coverage, and backing from professional athletes speaking out about the long-term ramifications of their careers.
It came as no surprise when Pop Warner youth football participation reportedly experienced a decline of almost 10 percent in 2015.
But a new study released by the Physical Activity Council and Sports Marketing Surveys USA contradicts the overwhelmingly negative outlook on youth football participation.
After surveying 30,000 Americans age 6 and older, the study found that youth football is currently the fastest growing sport. The number of participants in football grew, while most other sports declined.
The game’s no-tackle, flag football option showed the biggest increase in 2015, growing 8.7 percent among children ages 6 to 14. Tackle football increased by 1.9 percent in the same age group.
Similar results were found in the 15 to 18 age group. Flag football increased 10.5 percent and tackle football increased 2.5 percent. Flag football, tackle football, and basketball (1.1 percent) were the only three sports to experience an increase in the 15 to 18 age group.
Football programs are attributing their current growth to the way the sport has embraced coaching education and teaching smarter, safer ways to play the sport in response to the safety concerns among players and parents.
Ironically, this study was released the same day an NFL executive confirmed a link between football and CTE, a chronic brain disease.
Surprised by the survey results? Let us know in the comments below if you think football will continue to increase despite safety concerns, or if you think next year’s results will paint a different picture.
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