This Saturday, I will wake up at 9 a.m., have breakfast, then host radio from 10 a.m. - noon.
I’ll get home at about 12:20 p.m., then plop my butt on the couch where I will not move an inch until about 1 a.m. on Sunday morning.
College football is here and I, along with millions of fans around the country cannot wait to see what some of the powerhouses around the country will do.
After this weekend, it’s full-steam ahead until January with high-stakes games every, single weekend both in college and the pros.
But how many more weekends like that will I have?
Exactly how many more weekends will football be our sporting king? For how long will the game resemble its current form — both in terms of rules, but also in terms of the type of elite athletes on the field?
This past week, Andrew Luck abruptly retired from the NFL.
Luck is 29 years old and seemingly had another decade to perform at a high level.
The reason for retirement, Luck said, was physical.
He was oft-injured and always in pain. That pain and constant rehab sapped the joy for the game away from him.
Luck’s retirement is a shocker, sure. But what, to me, was most shocking was how the news was received amongst his peers.
They accepted it and almost applauded it.
And that can’t be good news for the NFL, nor its future.
I’ve said publicly many times that if I ever had kids, I wouldn’t let them play football — at least not until they were of high school age.
To me, the game is too dangerous. Of course, there’s all of the concussion stuff, and that’s troublesome. But I also worry about the other injuries, too — the broken collarbones, the broken legs and all of the bad stuff that can happen when two humans collide with one another.
When I first publicly made that statement, I was in the minority. I don’t think many agreed with my stance.
But today, there are statistics and signs that show that maybe more people are coming over to my side — enough folks that it makes me worry about the future of the game in its current form.
Youth football participation numbers are down locally.
In my area, there used to be 4 recreation-league football teams for every age group.
Now, there’s 1.
Sure, there’s a solid number of kids on that team.
But it’s still just 1 team, as opposed to 4.
Around the area, coaches tell me the same — they’re having a hard time finding players to consistently play football.
At the middle school level, it varies. Some schools have good numbers, some have bad.
But, to me, the biggest sign of trouble to come is at the high school level.
Locally, numbers are down — pretty much across the board.
There are a few exceptions. E.D. White has a big surge of numbers and other schools are holding firm, too. But the No. 1 complaint I heard everywhere I went throughout the summer was that coaches are having a hard time convincing kids to play football.
The theories why are endless. Some are hogwash, but others are valid.
To me, I think the injury concerns are real. I, personally, know kids who don’t play because their parents don’t allow them to. I know others who do play, but the entire time they’re on the field, their parents are in the stands with their fingers crossed hoping for the best.
I also think the timing of the season is a concern. So much of football’s prep time is over the summer. To play, you have to sacrifice your break from school, while also subjecting your body to oppressive heat.
And I also think the preparation and process just isn’t in line with the life of millennials.
Think about it. To play football, you have to train in the heat for three months. Then, you have to practice Monday-Thursday to get ready for a Friday night game.
Once Friday night comes, you may play what? 20-30 plays?
That’s a ton of work for literally 4-5 minutes of gratification.
Some do it and love it. And to me, I enjoy watching the sport, so I’m grateful for their sacrifices.
But others get lost in more hands-on activities and play other things and numbers are suffering.
So how long does it last and how deeply will it trickle down?
If high school numbers keep dropping, what will it mean for college football?
Will there be enough standout players? There are an awful lot of college football teams around the country.
Will the pros someday be impacted?
Eh, I doubt it. I think the best of the best will still rise to the top to fill up our 32-team NFL.
But will rules change to fight against peoples’ concerns to make the game safer? And if so, will future football resemble football in its current form?
I don’t have the answers to any of those questions, but I do know this: I’ll enjoy watching college football on Saturday from sun-up to sun-down.
Given the climate around the sport, I don’t know how many other chances I’ll get to do this, so I’ll take advantage while I can.