Virginia High School Cancels Varsity Football Season

School officials cited decreasing interest and safety concerns as reasons for the change

When it comes to football, a high school in Loudoun County used to be a powerhouse.

Now, the Friday night lights won't be shining as bright.

Park View High School in Sterling has eliminated its varsity football team due to low player turnout and safety concerns.

“The situation right now is not safe. This is an extremely competitive area in football,” said Wayde Byard, spokesperson for Loudoun County Public Schools.

Studies have shown that head injuries from playing football can cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease more commonly known as CTE.

“I think it’s the best decision for them, for the safety of the kids,” Park View parent and alumna Lori Sheehan told News4.

Some parents were upset about the change, but said they want to ultimately put their child's safety first. They also said that football isn't as popular as it used to be.

Loudoun County Public Schools said another reason for eliminating the football team was the increasing popularity of soccer, which cut into the pool of students who would potentially play football.

The Virginia High School League recommended schools cancel a season if a team is made up of less than 25 players.

Only 18 students came to the first practice of the season at Park View, half of whom had never played football before, officials said.

Although NFL stars Jeff Lageman and Allen Pinkett used to play at the school in the 1980s, the team had already been struggling before the season's cancellation. 

“Park View’s had trouble on the football field for the last few years. They have not been successful," Byard said. "They were 0-10 last year.”

The school will still have a junior varsity team this year, but may not have a varsity team through the 2019 season, officials said in a statement. 

In the meantime, juniors and seniors have permission to transfer to Dominion High School to play varsity football.

Still, some parents are hopeful.

“They’re going to try and build a winning program. They’re trying to get kids experienced,” parent Cyndi Kelley said.

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