A full return to high school sports and performing arts programs – that’s the hope for this fall in schools across the country.
a year of unprecedented challenges in keeping these programs going due
to the pandemic, which included 11 states that conducted their primary
football season this spring, there is great optimism as we look to a new
Even in those states
that were able to conduct activities last fall, attendance restrictions
kept many fans out of stadiums and watching games online. However, with
vaccine eligibility now at 12 years of age and older and with
vaccinations continuing during the next three months, the likelihood of
routines and traditions returning this fall grows stronger each day.
there is no tradition more anticipated than the full-scale return of
high school football. While there were 34 states there were fortunate
enough to conduct football at some level last fall, the routines were
anything but normal.
however, we anticipate a return to the energy and excitement of the 2019
season when 1,003,524 boys participated in 11-player football. That
total marked a decline of only 2,489 from the previous year and was a
good sign of a renewed confidence on the part of parents and
student-athletes that concerns about the risk of injury were being
While boys participation
in 11-player football has exceeded one million participants every year
since 1999 and is overwhelmingly the most popular boys sport, there have
been concerns about declines in past years.
fall, the NFHS and the National Football League announced a partnership
to promote the growth, understanding and support for football at the
high school level. The NFHS and NFL have been studying participation
trends, developing educational tools and striving to restore confidence
in students and parents that the sport is, in fact, more focused on risk
minimization than ever before.
As a result, the springboard to the return of high school football next fall begins this week with the launch of the #ThisIsHSFootball
campaign. Through this effort over the next few months, the NFHS will
be reaching out to coaches, students, parents, officials, athletic
directors and others with research information, participation trends and
data on various risk mitigation efforts that, we believe, continues to
make high school football safer than it has ever been.
a part of this effort, the NFHS produced a video entitled “This is High
School Football” designed to detail the benefits of participation in
high school football. Following is a link to the video:
the video states, more so than at any other level of play, parents
should feel good about their kids playing high school football.
are some of the many educational and medical safeguards put in place
the past 12 years to offer parents a comfort level about the safety
standards that are a part of high school football.
Concussion research and education.
All NFHS high school playing rules require a student who is exhibiting
signs of a concussion to be removed from the game and not allowed to
return until the student has been cleared by a medical professional.
Thanks to education and training on the part of students, coaches,
trainers, parents and others, research data has shown positive trends in
concussion rates. In a recent five-year period, concussion rates during
practices dropped from 5.47 to 4.44 concussions per 10,000 athletic
Concussion in Sport Course.
This free online education course has been available through the NFHS
Learning Center (www.NFHSLearn.com
) since 2010, and millions of
individuals have taken the course for a deeper understanding about
By 2014, every state had adopted state concussion laws that established
mandatory protocols, and every state high school association has
adopted policies that limit contact during preseason drills and in
practices during the season.
Manufacturers continue to produce higher quality equipment every year,
and high school coaches are doing a much better job at teaching and
coaching the rules of the game and making attempts to minimize risk of
injury for players.
Emergency Action Plans.
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 was sent to all state high school associations and their
high schools, and all schools have access to an AED to help save lives.
Playing Rules. Risk minimization is a major focus of every NFHS sports rules committee. In football, helmet-to-helmet hits are not allowed.
school football has been a significant part of schools, towns and
communities across America for almost 100 years. The NFHS is committed
to making the sport as safe as possible for the millions of kids who
will play the sport in the years to come.