Marketing campaign continues to advertise the advantages of highschool soccer | Wild sports activities
Editor’s note: Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff is the executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations.
A full return to high school sport – that is the hope for schools across the country this fall.
After a year of unprecedented challenges keeping these programs going due to the pandemic that included 11 states that hosted their primary football season this spring, we look forward to a new school year with great optimism.
Even in the states that were allowed to hold activities last fall, viewer restrictions kept many fans from visiting stadiums and watching games online. However, with vaccination eligibility now for ages 12 and older and vaccinations continuing for the next three months, the likelihood of routines and traditions returning this fall increases every day.
And there is no tradition more expected than the full return of high school football. While there were 34 states last fall that were fortunate enough to lead football at a certain level, the routines were far from normal.
This fall, however, we expect a return to the energy and excitement of the 2019 season when 1,003,524 boys competed in 11-player soccer. That was only 2,489 fewer than in the previous year and a good sign of the new confidence shown by parents and student athletes to dispel concerns about the risk of injury.
While boys’ participation in 11-player soccer has over a million participants each year since 1999 and is the overwhelmingly most popular boy sport, there have been concerns about declines in recent years.
Last fall, the NFHS and the National Football League announced a partnership to promote the growth, understanding and support of football at the high school level.
The NFHS and NFL have researched participation trends, developed educational tools, and sought to restore confidence among students and parents that sport is indeed more risk-oriented than ever.
As a result, the launch of the #ThisIsHSFootball campaign this week marks the springboard for the return of high school football next fall. Through these efforts, over the next several months the NFHS will provide coaches, students, parents, officials, sports directors, and others with research information, participation trends, and data on various risk reduction efforts that we believe continue to be high in making school football safer than ever.
As part of this effort, the NFHS produced a video entitled, “This is High School Football.”
As the video suggests, more than any other level of play, parents should feel good about their kids playing high school soccer.
Here are some of the many educational and medical safeguards introduced over the past 12 years to provide parents with comfort about the safety standards that are a part of high school football.
All NFHS High School rules of the game require that a student showing signs of a concussion be removed from the game and not be allowed to return until the student has been cleared by a doctor.
Thanks to the education and training of students, coaches, coaches, parents and others, research data shows a positive trend in concussion rates. Over the past five years, the rate of concussions during exercise decreased from 5.47 to 4.44 concussions per 10,000 athletic loads.
By 2014, every state had passed concussion laws that established mandatory protocols, and every state high school association had policies in place restricting contact during preseason exercise and during the season.
Manufacturers continue to produce higher quality equipment every year, and high school coaches do a much better job of teaching and coaching the rules of the game and trying to minimize the risk of injury to players.
Thanks to the NFHS Foundation, a copy of the Anyone Can Save a Life Emergency Action Plan, originally developed by the Minnesota State High School League, has been sent to all state high school associations and their high schools, and all schools have access to an AED Save lives.
Minimizing risk is a primary focus of any NFHS sports rules committee. Helmet-to-helmet hits are not allowed in football.
High school football has been a staple of schools, cities, and towns across America for nearly 100 years. The NFHS is committed to making sport as safe as possible for the millions of children who will play the sport in the years to come.