More proof of football's participation decline: Alabama high school cancels the sport

Photo: Holy Spirit Catholic School

Alabama is home to a perennial national title contending college football program. It’s also home to some of the most passionate and loyal high school football fans, and programs with deep roots and local children who can’t wait to reach high school to play for their school.

After this week, there’s now one fewer of those schools.

As reported by, Holy Spirit Catholic School (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) announced that it would no longer support a high school football team after a spring in which just 14 players came out to be part of the team.

While the decision to move away from football was made by school principal Scott Perry based on “low numbers and ultimately player safety,” the team’s coach struggled to put the decision to cancel the season in context.

“We had four or five guys that played last year that didn’t come back out,” Holy Spirit coach Mark Cochran told the Tuscaloosa News. “We had some other kids there that could have helped … I can’t explain it.”

Anyone who thought the program might just disappear for the 2019 season and return for 2020 can be disabused of that notion, too; the Alabama High School Athletic Association requires that any school which cancels a football program wait at least three seasons to resurrect it.

While there are many questions that remain about Holy Spirit’s sudden demise, the bottom line is that an Alabama High School (albeit a small one), practically in the shadow of the Crimson Tide’s Bryant Denny Stadium, will suddenly be quiet on Friday nights.

If that’s not a strange sentiment and indication that football is indeed on the decline — even in places where it’s an integral part of life — it’s hard to imagine what is.

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