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Monday, Sept. 9, 2019: Football participation numbers continue slide

   Leading off today: Matching the trend of school district enrollments that are generally declining throughout the state, participation numbers in sports have slipped again according to data released by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association on Friday.

   The organization's annual survey of schools showed 562,369 participants, a tiny increase over the 562,207 figure the previous school year. However, the numbers were bolstered by 9,339 participants in Game Day Cheerleading being added to the count for the first time.

   NYSPHSAA reports showed 575,903 participants in 2015-16 and 571,064 in 2016-17.

   The numbers are affected from year-to-year by cooperation from the NYSPHSAA membership in providing data. Every school reported data for the most recent year, whereas a handful were typically missing in most prior years. Too, numbers are potentially affected by schools cutting JV or modified teams for financial reasons rather than because of a lack of availability or interest on the part of athletes. The NYSPHSAA reported that schools fielded 32,247 varsity, JV or modified teams last year, a decrease of 1,742 from the 2015-16 survey.

   Football shows some of the most glaring declines in raw numbers. NYSPHSAA schools reported 50,345 players in the sport in 2015 and 43,731 last fall. That works out to a 13.1 percent drop. (For perspective's sake, that number stood at 57,061 for the 2010-11 school year, when the all-sport figure was 605,957.)

   By gender, there were 296,368 boys and 266,001 girls competing for their schools last year.

   Here's the breakdown of athletes by sport for the past three school years:

Sport 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
Badminton 2,046 2,174 2,270
Baseball 31,863 31,106 30,616
Basketball 62,895 62,875 62,058
Bowling 7,620 7,619 7,395
Comp. Cheer (Fall) 12,218 7,599 5,751
Comp. Cheer (Winter) 13,911 12,332 11,571
Cross Country 29,045 29,386 27,974
Fencing 1,077 1,098 1,121
Field hockey 11,123 11,345 11,312
Football (11-man) 48,170 45,991 42,796
Football (8-man)     935
Game Day Cheer (Fall)     6,086
Game Day Cheer (Wntr)     3,253
Golf (Spring) 3,675 5,170 4,964
Golf (Fall) 5,216 3,654 3,771
Gymnastics 1,788 1,724 1,734
Ice hockey 3,870 3,966 3,854
Lacrosse 42,963 41,851 41,930
Rifle 303 282 336
Skiing (Alpine) 1,346 1,398 1,339
Skiing (Nordic) 931 878 722
Soccer 73,112 73,360 72,639
Softball 26,260 26,824 26,455
Swimming 18,131 17,816 17,543
Tennis 20,751 20,738 20,821
Track (Winter) 30,413 30,289 29,856
Track (Spring) 70,202 69,864 70,323
Volleyball 32,540 33,503 34,085
Wrestling 19,595 19.065 18,859
TOTAL 571,064 562,207 562,369
   Notes: The NYSPHSAA did not break out eight-man football separately before the most recent season.


   A rough start: New York State played 14 football games against out-of-state opponents this weekend. The NYSSWA's Steve Grandin looked up the results -- and those results were nothing short of ugly.

   Some of the games were out of necessity because there were not suitable non-leaguers to be found locally and others were scheduled by New York teams willing to challenge themselves. But at the end of the day, the results were generally awful. football site

   New York's only victory came from St. Francis, which traveled south to Erie, Pennsylvania, to secure a 50-23 win. One or two of the other games qualified as moral victories but a lot of the other losses were blowouts: 55-0, 44-0, 49-6, 42-0, etc.

   Taking it hardest on the chin was the PSAL, which went 0-7 by an average score of 40-6 against a mix of squads from New Jersey and Pennsylvania -- several of which are traditional powers in football-crazy states.

   Here are the individual results:

  • McDowell (PA) 42, St. Joseph's Collegiate 20
  • Euclid (OH) 63, Canisius 35
  • Huron Heights (CAN) 41, St. Mary's 15
  • St. Francis 50, Erie (PA) 23
  • Episcopal Academy (PA) 49, Brooklyn Tech 6
  • Lenape (NJ) 48, Tottenville 21
  • Neumann-Goretti (PA) 44, Canarsie 0
  • Simon Gratz (PA) 42, Harry Truman 0
  • St. Peter's Prep (NJ) 20, Erasmus Hall 0
  • Union (NJ) 20, Curtis 12
  • West Morris (NJ) 55, New Dorp 0
  • Franklin (MD) 33, St. Anthony's 15
  • Pascack Hills (NJ) 36, Long Island Lutheran 12
  • Pennington (NJ) 18, Poly Prep 13
   Here's the full rundown of Week 1 football scores for New York.

   An explanation and apology: For a number of weeks, reporters and followers of the sport have been asking when the New York State Sportswriters Association would be releasing its all-state baseball team for the 2019 season.

   As I tweeted yesterday, the answer is that unfortunately we will not be announcing a team. The decision is the culmination of a series of mis-steps and misfortune that in retrospect could have been avoided. Without rehashing all the details, the short story is that it took longer than expected for the editor to gather the raw infor- mation and then there was a catastrophic loss of data at a point too late in the process to salvage the undertaking.

   In response to the obvious question, yes the editor should have been backing up the material on a regular basis. That's a step I routinely take on my projects, even going so far as regularly email 100-page documents to myself after each day of significant changes.

   Nevertheless, it's my name on this blog and ultimately my responsi- bility for much of the content of the website, so I accept all blame and acknowledge your right to be upset. It's surely of no consolation to the deserving athletes who will not get their just recognition or to their coaches, but this episode is without a doubt my most disappointing moment in 37 years involvement in chronicling high school sports.

   On the move: Fayetteville-Manlius baseball coach Jason Rutkey has stepped down on the heels of a Section 3 championship in order take on a new job at Clary Middle School and take post-graduate classes in administration.

   His fourth F-M went just 8-11 during the regular season and was seeded seventh in the sectional Class AA tournament before knocking off the top three seeds to reach the state tournament.

   Rutkey previously coached varsity baseball at Syracuse Fowler for four years.

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