NJ Community Sees Drop in Rec League Football Participation

Proponents of a youth football program in New Jersey are making a sales pitch to parents in an attempt to counter a decline in participation by kids who are choosing to play other sports.

About 40 youths registered for the recreational football league in Tenafly, far fewer than the numbers needed to field teams in each of the three divisions, organizers said.

"We're concerned about the numbers because even kids who played on a regular basis in the past were not coming back to us this year," said Matthew Mercurio, the township's recreation director.

Mercurio organized an information meeting Thursday to pitch the program to parents.

Some schools and recreation centers nationwide are seeing participation in football programs dwindle as a result of the growing publicity about the risk of concussions and other injuries.

Some Tenafly parents are hoping the meeting will change the minds of parents who encourage their children to play soccer or basketball instead of football.

"My boys can tell you everything about every team. They live for the sport," said Michele Goldberg. "If they couldn't play on the rec league? Devastation. We'd probably have to move." 

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