Back to School Means Back to Football: What You Need to Know This Fall

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It’s that time of year again—school is back and that means football is, too! From the pros all the way down to the tots, here’s some quick water cooler fodder that will keep you on top of your small-talk game.

NFL

Jay Cutler, who was all set as the newest analyst for NFL Fox, has changed direction and will be lacing up this fall for the Miami Dolphins. However, the jury is out on whether he’ll steer Miami to a winning season. In his final NFL season with the Chicago Bears, Cutler suited up for only five games and had a 59.1% passer rating, four touchdown passes, and five interceptions. Luckily for Cutler, he’ll be joining an organization loaded with heavy artillery at the receiver position, including catching machine Jarvis Landry and deep threat Kenny Stills.

High School

In football, it’s about more than winning the game—it’s also about when you play the game. Schools jockey for the coveted Friday night game, and with the Big Ten Conference scheduling more college football games on Friday nights this season, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) is putting its foot down.

In a resolution aimed to protect the Friday Night Lights tradition of high school football, the Indianapolis-based NFHS is urging collegiate and professional teams to schedule games on other days of the week. Keeping Friday nights sacred for high school teams is a good thing for colleges, proponents argue, because colleges ultimately reap the benefits of robust high school programs.

Pop Warner

The ongoing controversy in the NFL about player safety has trickled all the way down to Pop Warner leagues, and parents and coaches alike are in active dialogue about what’s best for today’s youth. “I think science is finally 2catching up to our sport, and that’s why there’s such an influence with what’s happening with CTE and it’s getting pushed down to the youth level,” said John Falgiatano, Football Commissioner for Central New York Pop Warner.

Pop Warner officials have reiterated that safety comes first. Of course, this is a hard stance to maintain while doctors keep finding new cases of CTE in deceased football players. Pop Warner is trying to stay ahead of the curve and to be proactive, updating helmets and other equipment.

As far as rule changes, Falgiatano says, “From the 10 year-old level down they’ve eliminated the kickoff, which is one of the biggest incidents you can have for concussions because of the amount of speed people are getting.” The New York Times reports that participation in tackle football for boys 6 to 12 has dropped by almost 20% since 2009, so Pop Warner teams will have to continue to innovate to draw young players back in.

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