Photo courtesy of Antonio Martin
For years, Jefferson football has been a tradition sacred to Jefferson culture. Yet, there is a possibility that the football team may be playing its very last games. It has been rumored that Jefferson football may not exist next year, likely due to the shortage of people willing to play.
“It’s not like we aren’t going to have a team because we don’t have the coaches, equipment, or money. It’s players that’s the problem,” defensive end player sophomore Niko Economos said. “The recommended team size is 25, and we’ll barely be able to have that with the players we currently have that aren’t seniors.”
The disbanding of Jefferson football is sure to negatively affect current football players.
“On a personal level, I think that I can speak for the whole team that football is something that we all love to play and we’d be sad to see it go,” Economos said.
Not only would not having a football team impact the players, it would also severely affect the entire Jefferson student body.
“I think it would be a huge blow to the school too, because because it brings the school together to cheer for one cause,” quarterback and cornerback junior Sihun Kim said.
“The football team, in mine and many others’ opinions, is the heart of the school. We represent and put on a show every Friday night. Not having a football team will decrease the pep, and overall spirit of the school,” wide receiver and defensive back sophomore Teja Valluri said.
Many other events important to Jefferson may suffer due to the removal of the football team.
“Without a football team, so many hoco [homecoming] traditions, like float and homecoming king and queen can’t happen,” Economos said.
Players on the football team are now urging Jefferson students to take action and prevent this from happening.
“We need people to come out, inexperienced or not, big or small, athletic or unathletic, it doesn’t matter. There’ll be a place on the team for everyone, we just need the bodies,” Economos said.
There are already opportunities available for anyone who is interested to begin practicing and determine whether they would like to play next season.
“I would like to share to the rest of the school to try out football if you are even slightly interested. We have off season weight room practices and we are going to have a non-contact passing league in the spring,” Kim said.
While many people may be interested in playing football, the fact that it is a time consuming, high-risk and both physically and mentally exhausting sport drives most of them away.
“Sometimes, it’s not even the injuries, it’s just the fact that when you’re on the field, every decision you make tires you out,” Arnold Zhang, a former Jefferson football player, said. “You get hit, you get punched, your body is constantly breaking down, and students are not willing to risk that anymore. Parents are not willing to risk that anymore.”
However, current football players choose to maintain a different mindset on the potential downsides to playing football.
“Injuries wise, Jefferson has spent loads of money to get the best equipment possible; in fact, our equipment can be compared with NFL level equipment,” Valluri said. “Our coaches are well trained professionals who have gone through this experience and teach methods of tackling and hitting that minimize injury to the maximum extent possible.”
While disbanding Jefferson’s football program is still only a possibility, football players are encouraging others in the student body to try the sport out.
“Football is the best thing I have ever participated in in my life,” Valluri said. “Football creates a family, and creates a discipline and respect within yourself.”