Mr. Sports: Number of athletes in high school sports increases

By Bob Labbe
By Bob Labbe

The number of participants in high school sports increased for the 27th consecutive year in 2015-2016 according to the annual High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). The survey includes all sports and both boys and girls.

Based on figures from the 51 NFHS members, which includes the District of Columbia, the total number of those youngsters partaking in sports at their high schools reached an all-time high of 7.8-million. The increase from the previous year was 61,853. Boys increased in participation to an all-time high of 4.5-million, while girls increased for the 27th consecutive year with a new high of 3.3-million.

Track and field ranks second to football in boys participants and remains the most popular sport among girls. The top 10 girls sports remained the same as the previous year: track and field, volleyball, basketball, soccer, fast-pitch softball, cross country, tennis, swimming and diving, competitive spirit squads and lacrosse. The top 10 boys sports: football, track and field, basketball, baseball, soccer, cross country, wrestling, tennis, golf and swimming and diving.
Texas and California lead the participation by states.

College Football

Week three of the college football season will feature three key games that can a long way in who does what at the end of the 2016 season. Those elite games include No. 2 Florida State at No. 10 Louisville, No. 1 Alabama at No. 19 Ole Miss and No. 3 Ohio State at No. 14 Oklahoma. Here is the TV schedule for this Saturday:

Florida State-Louisville, 11:00 a.m. (Channel 31), Ohio-Tennessee, 11:00 a.m. (SEC), Vanderbilt-Georgia Tech, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN Extra), Alabama-Ole Miss, 2:30 p.m. (Channel 19), Oregon-Nebraska, 2:30 p.m. (Channel 31), Pittsburgh-Oklahoma State, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN), East Carolina-South Carolina, 3:00 p.m. (SEC), Miss State-LSU, 6:00 p.m. (ESPN2), Texas A&M-Auburn, 6:00 p.m. (ESPN), Georgia-Missouri, 6:30 p.m. (SEC), Michigan State-Notre Dame, 6:30 p.m. (Channel 48), Ohio State-Oklahoma, 6:30 p.m. (Channel 54) and Southern Cal-Stanford, 7:00 p.m. (Channel 31).

Lee Roy Jordan

Former All-American player for Alabama and All-Pro for the Dallas Cowboys Lee Roy Jordan was in our area last week as guest speaker at the Huntsville Quarterback Club. More on Jordan and my conversation with him elsewhere in this week’s edition. During my quiet time with the man Bear Bryant called one of his all-time favorite players, Jordan, 75, spoke with me about possible rule changes in the NFL, concussions and his thoughts on what has happened to the Cowboys.

“I wish they would leave the kickoffs alone as its part of the game. I think we shouldn’t mess with the game that is working so well,” Jordan told me. “Putting rules into effect for the safety of players I’m always for that, but changing the game in ways it would totally make it different than the last 50-60 years would be wrong. The game is very successful.”

As for concussions and the hot topic that has become important over the past five years, Jordan had this to say. “I was knocked out a few times, but we didn’t call them concussions back then. I remember many times waking up to smelling salts from that capsule they’d run underneath your nose, which would sort of shock you back to life. They didn’t document lineman concussions like they did the quarterbacks. They’d give us a few minutes and put us back in the game so we could play again.”

As for the troubled Cowboys? I told Jordan the team was once known as “America’s Team,” but the last several years Dallas is more of “America’s Troubled Team.” He agreed. He told me, “They’ve kind of gone downhill ever since Jimmy Johnson left as head coach as he was the guy that taught them how to win and drafted the right players to win and surely coached that way. One he departed the team hasn’t been the same. It’s a sad thing. I think the team’s current owner, Jerry Jones, wants to win, but he wants to do it his way and his way doesn’t prove out to be a winning football team. He can win some games and sell some tickets, but winning a Super Bowl in the last 20 years they just haven’t come close.”