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Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014: Paper examines declining numbers in football

   Leading off today: The list of possible reasons is lengthy and probably entirely legitimate:

  • Growing concerns over safety.
  • The emerging popularity of other sports.
  • The need to work to save money for college or help the family.
  • A shrinking population.
  • The slow demise of feeder programs.
  • Too many athletes focusing on a single sport.
  • Too many other entertainment options.
   Pick one or more from the list above and you have a good introduction to Sunday's story in the Times Herald-Record regarding the growing signs that football is losing some of its grip as a signature high school sport.

   It's disheartening," Goshen coach Ed Killenberger told the paper. "You wonder what's going on with the sport. ... Kids are not feeling the game anymore, you know what I mean?"

   With a BEDS figure of 662 for the new school year, Goshen is small by Class A standards but it's still startling that Killenberger's varsity roster has only 23 players. Still, there are much more dire situations in Section 9. The paper found numerous schools whose JV rosters are too small to allow for games this fall, meaning the teams will only scrimmage. Other schools will have no junior varsity.

   Statewide, two varsity programs -- Pine Valley and Trumansburg -- have already been dropped this fall, with more likely to follow in the first three weeks of the season. Under NYSPHSAA rules, a team must have 16 players available to start a game. It's not unusual for teams to lose one or more players per week to injuries that shelve them for at least the next game, especially with the recent changes to the way concussions are diagnosed and treated.

   "I think it scares parents, understandably," Spackenkill coach Clinton DeSouza said. "Even Barack Obama said if he had sons he wouldn't let them play football due to the dangers. So with that kind of attention you start to see a drop in numbers -- that really affects the smaller schools."

   Add to that the willingness of some players to quite unexpectedly, even in the middle of a season. Monroe-Woodbury coach Bernie Connolly said that in his 35 years of coaching, he had never had a player quit midseason; last year, even with the Crusaders advancing to the NYSPHSAA Class AA final, he had three players leave the team.

   You can read the full story on the website.

   Policy clarified: Cazenovia's school board has approved a revision to the district's selection classification policy for athletes after six months of at-times heated discussions.

   The program came under fire after six eighth-grade football site

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basketball players were moved up from the modified level via the selective classification process. Some board members questioned whether it was possible that six players in one year could meet the skill and maturity levels the policy was supposed to identify, Eagle News Online reported.

   The board voted unanimously to recommend better education of players, parents and coaches on selection classification protocol and clarified how the AD will administer the process.

   CHSAA change: The NYSSWA's Joe Glus noted this week that Kevin Pigott has stepped down as boys basketball and tennis coach at Fordham Prep.

   Pigott will continue to teach full-time at the school, but his new role in athletics will be as president of the Catholic High School Athletic Association's executive board. The school's website said he will have overall responsibility for the CHSAA and will report directly to the Principals Council.

   Pigott had coached basketball since 1990 after coaching the JVs at All Hallows.

   Progress: The New York State Sportswriters Association welcomes aboard Rob Jonas, who will take over for Perry Novak in compiling state girls soccer rankings beginning next fall.

   Perry will continue to edit the all-state team.

   Rob is the sports editor and associate editor at the Spotlight Newspapers chain in the Albany area. He'll be making contact soon with the network of regional advisers that helps compile the weekly rankings.

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