By Matthias Gafni and Joyce Tsai
As high school football teams around the Bay Area kicked off their season this weekend, new statistics show the king of all prep sports is drawing fewer players than it did a decade ago amid a dramatic increase in concussion diagnoses.
High school football participation in California is down 7 percent over the past decade, with some schools dropping teams or even their entire football programs, according to hospital and high school athletics statistics compiled by this newspaper. Every other major high school sport has seen participation grow over that period, and for the first time, track and field has more athletes, knocking football off its pedestal.
Campolindo High School quarterback Jacob Westphal, 17, of Moraga, runs a drill during practice at the school in Moraga, Calif., on Wednesday, Aug 24, 2016. Westphal says he loves the game and that he focuses on the game, not concussions. But the reason for the trend is not clear. Are parents more reluctant to let their sons play the hard-hitting game? Has a tipping point been reached where waffling fathers and mothers are now pointing their kids toward safer sports?