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Alaska Pop Warner Football Numbers Drop

By Garrett Turner, Reporter/Anchor, gturner@ktuu.com
Published On: Nov 17 2013 11:14:00 PM AKST

(KTUU-TV, 11-17-13)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -

It's an empty feeling for football. There are fewer players participating across the country.

Pop Warner, the nation's largest youth football program, has seen a drop of more than 20,000 participants nationwide. From youth to high school football, Alaska numbers have seen a drop as well.

Since 2012, Alaska's Pop Warner football participants have decreased from 914 to 881. For Anchorage's Boys and Girls Club, the numbers have declined from 386 in 2011 to 305 in 2013. In Alaska high schools, the Alaska School Activities Association has seen a drop as well. 2,091 students played boys high school football two years ago, but this year, it's a drop to 1,947.

"I don't think it's coincidental," Chris Brost, Dimond football coach, said. "I think the numbers are down because of the concern of potential injuries to athletes."

Stephen Carr, who is the football director for South Central Alaska Pop Warner football, says his youth program is taking extra steps to ensure safety.

"We have a big concussion initiative," Carr said. "We talk to our coaches every year and we do education on concussions and safety."

John B. Oates, Anchorage's Boys and Girls Club athletics director, says his program is also taking player safety seriously.

Both programs have joined the Heads Up program which teaches kids the correct technique when tackling to protect the head of the player.

"The natural instinct is when you're tackling somebody or when you're about to get tackled is to lower the head," Oates said. "We're trying to get away from that."

These days, coaches agree football equipment is top of the line. They say the games never been safer.

However, no matter the exact reason for the decrease in enrollment, more parents are drawing the line when it comes to letting their kids play on the Gridiron or stay off the field.