As high school students get back on the football field to kick off a new season, there's talk of whether education on concussions has played a role in the decline in participation.
But a closer look at national and local numbers may explain what other factors could be to blame for the decrease.
Some point to a population shift as the number of students in Ohio is actually decreasing. Today, there are nearly 55,000 less students attending high school in the state in comparison to seven years ago, according to the Ohio Department of Education.
A look at national numbers also shows a decline in northern “powerhouse” schools in places like Ohio, Missouri, and Minnesota, according to Sport's Illustrated, but there's also statistics showing more people have moved to the south and the number of students playing football there has actually increased since 2008.
Schools across the nation have also turned to "pay-to-play" to combat failing levies. But some say the high-priced game has forced some students to sit out.
Eric Mitchell, head coach at Firestone High School, said concussions concerns have been expressed by parents, but he doesn’t see it as the reason behind the decline. If anything, Mitchell says students have many more options to consider.
"When I was growing up, it was just football in the fall, but now you have so many other sports and activities that some kids are making those choices."
And even with all those factors playing a role in the decline in football participation, there are still nearly twice the number of students playing football today then the next closest sport, which is track and field, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.