Thursday, June 04, 2009

Deserted Island?

The rosters for the Empire Challenge High School Senior All-Star game have been announced and two incoming Ivy recruits will be participating. They are: Princeton's Caraun Reid, who will be on the New York City team and Yale's Chris Dooley, who be on the Long Island team.

It's been two years now since Columbia had a player in this game, Carl Constant, who played quite a bit in the 2007 contest, and this year none of Columbia's incoming frosh were from the Island or the City anyway.

Which leads me to today's topic: what's happened to high school football in New York City and Long Island? It seems like the available pool of players keeps shrinking.

A lot of the answer comes from demographics. On my home of Long Island the percentage of the overall population that includes families with children is getting really small. What was once a region of the country known for people raising their families is now becoming something else entirely. Fewer kids, fewer football players.

As for New York City, I would guess that finances are a factor. This latest economic downturn aside, the city's overall financial situation improved greatly from the late 1980's until 2001 or so. But the school system did not enjoy the same upward trajectory. And football is an expensive sport. The number of city schools fielding serious football squads is noticeably down since the 1960's, 70's and even 80's.

Luckily, Columbia still has some outstanding New York City and Long Island players on its current roster. They are:

1) Dan Cohen (Horace Mann School, NYC)

2) Carl Constant (St. Francis Prep, NYC... but a Long Island resident of Uniondale, NY)

3) Mike Murphy (St. Joseph by the Sea, NYC)

4) Chris Paruch (Chaminade, Long Island... but a NYC resident of Bayside, Queens)

One big surprise for me was the fact that Seamus Kelly, the same Seamus Kelly who is ditching football to play college rugby at Berkeley, is on the New York City squad! I guess that says it all. One of the city's all-time record breaking running backs plays an All-Star high school game, but isn't even looking to play college football.

The Empire Challenge is a charity benefit for the Boomer Esiason Foundation. The game will be played June 23, 2009 at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium at 7:30pm.


At Thu Jun 04, 05:25:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, I sometimes think that our local recruiting isn't as strong as our national recruiting. We seem to do better in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and California, for example, than we do around here.

At Thu Jun 04, 10:23:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

New York City high school athletics went into a sharp decline after World War II for many complex reasons of a political, sociological and financial nature. The governing body of the Public School Athletic League ("PSAL") was destroyed in the 1950's and 1960's by the local anti-sports groups who ended all support for high school sports in New York City. A similar phenomenon occurred at the college level following the basketball fixing scandal in the early 1950's involving CCNY, LIU, NYU and Kentucky. None of the New York colleges ever recovered from that scandal as the anti-sports groups took away their financial support. Only Kentucky ever recovered and Kentucky is a long way from Manhattan. Some great public school athletes (Lou Gehrig, Sid Luckman and Gene Rossides to name a few) attended Columbia in the twenties, thirties and forties, but those days are gone forever.

At Thu Jun 04, 11:32:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's not true, insofar as we recruit New Jersey, which does produce a lot of players, quite well, as do other Ivies. Bottom line is that you have to go to where the players are.

At Fri Jun 05, 02:25:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

... and the result in New York and many other high schools that have de-emphasized athletics is a growing rash of teenage obesity and diabetes.

Sound body, sound mind.


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