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Despite Injury Worries, Illinois High Schools Not Dropping Football

CHICAGO (CBS) -- While some high schools around the country have been dropping their football programs, an official with the Illinois High School Association said he's seeing no evidence of that here.

Around the country, the number of high school students playing football has dropped by more than 25,000 over the past five years, and some school districts have dropped the sport because of safety and liability concerns.

Late last year, after the IHSA was slapped with a class-action lawsuit over a players' concussions, the association filed a motion to dismiss the case, calling the suit "a misguided effort that threatens high school football." Executive director Marty Hickman had previously warned court-imposed mandates could make football prohibitively expensive for poorer schools, leading to "haves and have nots" in the sport.

IHSA football administrator Craig Anderson said that so far this year, the organization has lost just one program, a co-op team in the Peoria area. Otherwise, Illinois schools are sticking with football.

"They've been able to continue to support at least a varsity team," Anderson said. "Typically in the small schools is where we're finding that they're having a hard time supporting the numbers necessary, but so far they've been able to do so."


The concussion lawsuit against the IHSA accuses the association of failing to do enough to protect athletes from the possible damage of concussions, and it asks a judge to impose policies requiring schools to have medical professionals with concussion expertise at all high school football games, to establish new screening guidelines for brain injuries, to set up programs to educate teachers about identifying concussions and to require a monitoring program allowing former high school players to be tested for concussion-related problems and seek treatment or pursue legal action against the IHSA.

The next court date in the case is scheduled for Oct. 16, according to court records.

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