Do high school sports face an uncertain future?

Braden Chaffin breaks a tackle attempt to gain more yards in a game where he had 85 yards and two touchdowns.

Senior night Thursday for the Lady Buffaloes volleyball team at Floyd County High School.

Also the last home game of the regular season.

Next week, the varsity footballers play Radford for their last home season game and Senior Night.

The closet the FCHS track team came to a home match was the FloydFest site, which is in Patrick County.

Three sports, three seasons, hopefully, headed into the playoffs.

The volleyball ladies are 18-3 this season and will make both district and regional playoff game.

Outdoor track should field a team into the state match this year.

Football Buffaloes’ record stands at 4-4: Longer odds for them.

Next year, enrollment for football may be tougher than the schedule.

In Virginia, and across the country, schools are not fielding football teams.  Virginia schools include Bland County, Manassas Park, Park View, and Charles City. In nearby states, Chapel Hill in North Carolina, Bedford, Kentucky and Bladensburg, Maryland are just some who have pulled the plug because of declining participation and increased concern over injuries.

The National Federation of State High School Associations says participation in high school sports dropped by 43,375 players between 2017 and 2018 — more than double the decline from the year before.  At least 70 percent of that drop came in football enrollment has declined by 6.6. percent in the past decade.

Since 2010, high school football enrollment is down more than 100,000 players nationwide.

Before this season began at Floyd County High School, the athletic department wasn’t sure they would have enough players for a Junior Varsity football squad. They managed to just meet the minimum.

Seven seniors play their last regular-season home for Floyd County varsity football next week. Will coach Winfred Beale have enough junior varsity plays available next year to fill the vacancies?

Participation is also dropping in interest in sports for kids 6 to 12 years old. Not even a quarter of children regularly participate in high-calorie-burning sports, according to report by the Sports and Fitness Foundation, and the percentage fell from 28.7 percent of kids active at a healthy level om 2-11 to  23.9 percent in 2017.

Some experts in athletics say a “crumbling youth sports infrastructure” contributes to the problem. Participation in local recreational leagues declines as parents push their children to chase college scholarships through competitive club squads. They also blame the drops on high costs and “bad coaches.”

“I do wonder if we’re reaching the point that the youth participation declines are reaching the high school level,” Jon Solomon, editorial director at the Aspen Institute Sports and Society program, tells The Washington Post. “When you at younger levels are losing players because of steeper competition and cost, that’s going to catch up to high schools at some point.”

Football remains the most popular high school sport for boys without about one million participants nationwide.  But 20 percent of all high schools in America today have no athletics for students and the number is growing.

Besides football, outdoor track is the second most popular sport for boys, following by basketball.

Track is the most popular for girls nationwide, with volleyball second and basketball third.

At Floyd County High School, the girls’ volleyball, basketball, and outdoor track teams often win regional and state championships.

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