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Wednesday, February 06, 2013

As the Electoral College Goes, So Goes.. . College Football Recruiting?

About 40 years ago, Philadelphia had five Congressional districts, none of which overlapped with any municipality in the four counties that surround it.  Today, Philadelphia has two members of the U.S. House of Representatives, each of whose districts covers suburban municipalities as well.  Pennsylvania also has many fewer seats in the U.S. House.  This results from a few factors -- an aging population (by some accounts, Pennsylvania, next to Florida, is the "grayest" state in the nation), stagnant or extinct economies in certain parts of the state (for example, coal and steel production aren't what they once were, with the result that there are fewer families in those regions and fewer kids trying to "escape" a life in the mines or mills and the growth of populaton in other regions (namely, California, Texas and Florida).  As this article tells us, that means that Pennsylvania is not the fertile ground for recruiting college football players the way it once was.

That's not a huge surprise to us veteran Pennsylvanians (and we didn't really think that Philadelphia, proper, or the surrounding counties were all that fertile even back then).   Sure, there was the great Leroy Kelly, who played running back for the Browns by way of the Philadelphia Public League, Marvin Harrison, who played for Roman Catholic, and Matt Ryan, who played for Penn Charter.  Perhaps that's a good statistical representation unless you compare it to, say, Pahokee, Florida.  But apparently the number of Division 1 recruits from Pennsylvania now doesn't even make the top 10. 

And it used to, especially when you consider kids from the coal regions in the northeastern part of the state and the steel regions out west.  The names are legendary -- Dorsett, Ditka, Marino, Montana, among many others.  It's just that there are not as many of those types of players as there used to be.

Could it be that it's expensive for a school district to run a program?  (The article reports that in some districts kids are asked to pay a fee to play).  Could it be that kids have to work after school?  Could it be that for what's asked of the kids, an increasing number of parents believe that the game is too dangerous.  Or could it be that kids are playing other sports, whether real ones, such as soccer, or pretend ones, like anything EA Sports puts out for the Play Stations or XBox?

The linked article is as much a discussion of what happened to some of these feeder towns such as Shamokin, up in Pennsylvania's coal country, as it is about the lure of the game itself (or the lack thereof).  Perhaps it's also not all that compelling, as the theme of the article isn't all that new.  What would be more interesting is to examine the overall population of kids and see what year-to-year numbers are for matriculation in football, soccer, lacrosse and other sports and whether, in certain sports, travel programs are cannibalizing school programs. 

I don't know what the morale of the story is, except a) to enjoy the "Glory Days" when they're glorious and b) to help foster an environment where the possibility for "Glory Days" lies in the present and the future, and not just in the increasingly distant past, when excitement constantly filled the atmosphere.  Good memories are important to have.

As are outstanding current experiences.


Anonymous George Clark said...

I thought the President was right.

11:21 AM  

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