High school and youth football is alive and well in the Garden State
It remains unclear if football will continue at West Windsor's two high schools.
Over the past few years, the number of players signing up for the sport has been declining, and there are fears West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North and South may may soon not be able to field teams.
But according to Jack DuBois, assistant director of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, the problem is not widespread.
“There are perhaps communities (where) demographics dictate that those student athletes in their building are gravitating towards a different interscholastic athletic experience rather than football,” he said.
But “the participation levels in football in New Jersey have been steady.”
DuBois said with so much talk these days about concussions and other injury issues in pro football, “we have implemented several safety procedures and protocols.”
He said new summer guidelines and regulations will soon take effect, limiting summer football practices. For the regular fall football season, teams will be allowed “90 minutes of contact per week, no more than that.”
Lou Montanaro, president of New Jersey American Youth Football, said recruitment efforts for youth football in the Garden State are going quite well.
“Our numbers are up across the board for tackle football between the ages of 7 and 14. It’s pretty exciting for us,” he said.
Montanaro said part of the reason why participation in New Jersey is increasing is the emphasis on safety.
“We have concussion training and safer tackling techniques. Coaches’ education has been huge for us, and the numbers are up,” he said.
He said American Youth Football has about 12,000 players and cheerleaders, with 186 teams spread out over 37 Garden State towns.
DuBois said NJSIAA coaches and athletic directors go through rigorous training on heat acclimatization and concussion awareness as well as first aid and CPR.
“We have the pre-participation physical, we have the physicals. One of our major focuses is obviously to make interscholastic competition in athletics a safe experience,” he said.
“New Jersey’s in the forefront of the safety procedures and protocols for student athletes participating in football," he said.
A spokesman for Pop Warner football told Townsquare Media News in an email player participation levels in New Jersey have remained steady over the past three years.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.
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