Running out of time

A football player’s opinion on the declining numbers of MVHS football and the temporary loss of the junior varsity team


Photo by Ankit Gupta.

Anish Vasudevan

At a whopping 90 pounds, I entered the MVHS team locker room on the first day of summer, a freshly minted high schooler. I was greeted by massive football players who each introduced themselves and welcomed me to sit down beside them. Leaving the locker room that day, I knew I had found a new family— MVHS football. 

However, the program that gave me a home four years and 60 pounds ago is slipping away.  

Every year, I’ve seen the junior varsity team struggle to get numbers over the summer and barely field a team in August. Now, that struggle is a harsh reality; the junior varsity team is dead. This is supposed to be temporary, and we are hopefully going to have a team by week five. But the fact that the numbers have reached such low level shows how the program’s future is barely keeping afloat. Following this trajectory, there could very well be no varsity team next season. 

During the incoming ninth grade information night last year, our team was able to get 20-30 incoming freshmen to sign up for football. We were ready to tackle the new season. But when we followed up with them over the summer, many of them stated their parents wouldn’t allow them to play, and as a result, there are currently only five freshmen on the team. 

The reason why the initial 20-30 freshmen count dwindled down to merely five is plain and simple: the fear of concussions permeates the game of football like an invisible disease.This word evokes a sense of fear in people and creates a stigma that football automatically leads to concussions, which is not a true assumption.  

What most members of the MVHS community don’t know is that the athletic staff has taken numerous steps to ensure the safety of players. Every potential athlete at MVHS has to take a concussion baseline test before even trying out for a sport. This season, our coach made it mandatory for us to wear padding over our helmets during every practice to soften the impact of hits to the head. Additionally, all helmets are equipped with concussion monitors that measure the level of impact and notify the athletic trainer of a substantial hit. 

Still, the most important – and yet overlooked –aspect of football is the sense of comradery that exists within a team. Before our first game, we have a ritual that the seniors share why they play football to the younger members of the team. The reasons are diverse: some play for deceased family members, some play to escape life’s problems, some play to prove bullies or doubters that they can succeed in the game. Whatever the reason, everyone on the team has a clear purpose. And we all played for each others purposes.

Hopefully I can inspire someone at MVHS to let go of their doubts and take up football. For those students who love playing football in the backyard or at a park with friends, MVHS football is for you. For those students who are unable to convince their parents to let them play, tell them about the safety measures in place. For any speculative parents or students afraid of concussions, know that more concussions occur in girls’ soccer than in football, according to WebMD.

As I leave the program and head off to college next year, I don’t want to see my second family disappear. Football is a tradition at MVHS that has lasted 50 years, and it should continue for the next 50. In order for this to happen, mindsets need to change, and the sport needs to be given the proper assessment it deserves. Football has changed my life, and I want the same for future MVHS students.