The City of Falls Church’s long-time rival high school in the Bull Run District, Manassas Park High School, has cancelled its varsity football program this fall, it was reported by the Culpeper Star-Exponent last week. The Manassas Park Cougars were not on Mason’s schedule this year, but have been stalwart rivals for decades.
In a letter to the community, Manassas Park Principal Pamela Kelso said the reason was a low turnout, an average of 15 healthy players per practice, far below the Virginia High School League (VHSL) recommended 25 players. The school will field a junior varsity team, Kelso said. According to a report in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, two other high schools in the region have also cancelled their football seasons this fall. Charles City and Loudoun County’s Park View High School have also called off their football seasons. When only 18 students turned out for the Park View tryouts this month, the season was promptly cancelled. In the cases of all three schools, safety concerns associated with their small turnouts were cited. Overall, according to the Times-Dispatch report, high school football enrollment has dropped 4.5 percent nationwide from 2006 to 2016, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.
Among the reasons for concern for the recently-gathered data on football’s impact on the brains of players, with reports of widespread cases of progressive and irreversible chronic traumatic encephalitis (CTE), arising from constant impacts below the level of blows which might cause what would be diagnosed as concussions.