By Todd Lancaster
The Washington Times-Herald
---- — Are you ready for some football? If you are a Washington Hatchet football player then you had better be — because football has already started.
In the last several years the Hatchets and coach Kelly Brashear and Co. have posted a successful run that have given them respect and credibility across Southwestern Indiana. They have beaten every conference foe except Jasper and sent multiple players on to success at the next level.
After watching a little of the summer conditioning program and looking at some of the athletes who will be suiting up this fall, one would think all was right in Hatchetland — but it is not.
Football is a game of numbers and frankly, football programs nationally from youth level to high school are down.
Brashear said that they are looking at a little more than 30 players based on summer participation and call out numbers. He said that makes it tough to even have a JV team.
So the big question is why? Especially given recent success at Hatchet Hollow.
Currently football is the most popular sport in America. it has taken dramatic strides to improve safety at all levels and, at least at the high school and junior high level, is being coached by people who understand their responsibilities where heat, concussion and injuries are concerned.
If I had to guess why kids are not playing, I would say because it has been made to easy to not play. It was easy in the past to blame other fall sports. That is not the cause. All sports are facing the the same challenges, it is the not the kids who are playing another fall sport, or even another activity like NJROTC, band or choir. It is the kids who aren’t doing anything.
We have all been warned about the current and pending youth obesity crisis and yet as weight goes up, participation still goes down. Sports are not for everyone, but sports like golf, tennis and running are lifetime sports and high school is a great time to start. There is also the positive correlation between grades and sports participation.
Football is a difficult sport, with a nomenclature and rituals that are not always easily digested. It is a collision sport —not a contact sport — and injuries happen. However, the benefits of challenging ones self, battling a common enemy and finally being part of something bigger than ones self certainly make things worthwhile.
Currently only six incoming freshmen have come out, and from what I have been told less than 10 sophomores. That isn’t out of a classes of 25, it is out of almost 180.
We like to empower our children and let them choose things that they enjoy. However, at least at some point, those choices come from educated participation.
This isn’t just about football — it’s about life. Children can use their high school year as a time to remain sheltered from life until they are 18 or to a time to prepare for it.
Todd Lancaster is an award-winning columnist and can be followed on Twitter @blasterdog.