Bluestreaks Football Feeling Impact of Declining Participation
Minnesota is seeing a decrease in students playing football, and that trend is hitting the Northland.
CHISHOLM, Minn. – Over the past few years, there has been a decline in the number of student-athletes playing high school football. Minnesota State High School League statistics show a drop of more than 400 players statewide over just the past few years, and that decline is hitting the Northland hard, especially in Chisholm.
“We were expecting 25 to maybe 30 to come out in grades 9–12. We ended up with about 20 to start the season and sometimes the kids trickle in because it’s before school starts of course and we were right around 20 and then a couple kids got injured and then we had some kids who were ineligible,” Chisholm Athletic Director Mark Morrison said.
Since they didn’t have enough players, the Chisholm athletic department made the decision in early September to move the program down to 9-man. The decision was tough but necessary if they wanted to field a team.
“I talked with the kids about it and they kind of decided we weren’t going to be able to go on and continue. We had a good conversation about it, it was kind of sad, kind of like a funeral and we decided we weren’t going to be able to play football this year. And the seniors were really down and out,” Chisholm head coach Donny Quirk said.
But the decision was easy from a numbers standpoint. The Bluestreaks had nine players go down with concussions last year, and there just aren’t a lot of boys available at the school to play.
The athletic department told us that last year at Chisholm, more than 100 girls participated in at least one sport, while just 65 boys played in one.
“It’s not like we have a ton of capable boys walking the hallways that should be out there. You look around and there just aren’t that many that would be able to help us,” Quirk said.
Chisholm was able to work out the schedule and play in five 9-man games, giving the players that were left the chance to play the sport they love.
“It was kind of very exciting that this wasn’t going to be closing the senior year, that we actually got to play some 9–man games and finish the season out,” senior wide receiver Eli Sundquist said.
The Bluestreaks have two games left, including their homecoming game this Friday.