In an age of injury awareness, particularly in regard to concussions and the research into CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), football has become a less attractive option — especially at the youth level.
It’s a Friday morning in August, which means the spectacles of Friday night lights aren’t far away in football-frenzied Jenks. On the third floor of the Robert L. Sharp Fitness Center, located behind the north end zone of Allan Trimble Stadium, a visitor pores over a seating chart as she chooses her season tickets for the 2018 season.
The crowded bleachers won’t change, even if the sidelines have become a little less congested. Athletic Director Tony Dillingham, now in his 18th year in the position, estimated Jenks will have 80-90 kids in the football program for grades 10-12. That’s about 10-15 fewer than his first five or six years at the school. “There may have been a time, I think, when I first got here 17 years ago, we probably had close to 100 kids that were out for eighth-grade football every year,” Dillingham said. “Now, we’re probably at that 65-70 range. So that’s a pretty considerable difference from that end of it.”