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Sports participation numbers fall across the country, but Bellwood is still in good shape


Malia Danish

Coaches at B-A cite the ready availability of distractions like video games as one reason for the decline in high school sports participation

Kyra Markey, Staff Writer

Concussions/injuries, challenges with school/grades, no time … 

For a number of reasons, participation in high school sports are declining drastically.

According to the Los Angeles Times,  participation in high school sports is declining for the first time in 30 years. During the 2017-18 season,  overall sports participation was 7,937,491 but starting last year participation declined 43,395.

There are plenty of reasons for the decline.

“Culturally , we have a lot of other interests and activities to potentially catch our attention and time,” said Bellwood-Antis Athletic Director Coach Charlie Burch. 

Football is in the biggest decline. Eleven-man football dropped 30,829 participants to 1,006,013. That was the fifth consecutive year of declining football participation.

Culturally , we have a lot of other interests and activities to potentially catch our attention and time.

— Mr. Burch

“Some parents aren’t allowing their kids to play due to fear of injury,” said B-A junior high coach Brandon Hescox.

Not only are injuries preventing kids from playing, but varsity football coach Nick Nick Lovrich believes it also involves all the money parents are forced to put into a sport.

“More kids are working to save money and pay for vehicles, phones, etc,” said Coach Lovrich. 

“The prices of sports/sports equipment has increased significantly,” noted junior high football coach Travis Martin. 

Some players play in traveling teams, which takes away time for participation in high school sports. 

Basketball is a prime example. Since last year girls’ basketball participation has declined a total of 399,067 participants nationwide. That’s the lowest since 1992-93. 

Although sports participation may be declining in other parts of the US, at Bellwood-Antis sports participation is not really a problem. According to Mr. Burch, participation at Bellwood-Antis has remained fairly high and consistent over the last decade.

Our participation numbers for football have actually increased over the past 10 years.

 “We are lucky here at Bellwood-Antis. We are probably close to 50% of our students participating in an activity this fall,” said  Coach Lovrich.

While numbers are strong at B-A, coaches still believe there are adjustments that would improve sports participation. Mr. Burch feels safety could be an issue.

“Creating safe techniques and equipment to prevent concussions (would increase participation),” said Mr. Burch.

Mr. Lovrich said sports should be allowed to be fun.

“I think we could help this issue by not putting so much emphasis on winning and losing at the lower levels of sports. Sometimes the pressure of winning takes away from the fun. Sometimes coaches put too much focus on winning than development,” said Coach Lovrich.