Merging teams not only answer

By LARRY ZOLLINGER

Over the past several years some of the small schools in the area have seen declines in the student census such that it is no longer possible for some schools to field an 11-man football team. So far the response to this problem has been to merge teams, such as Sherman-Ripley and Forestville-Silver Creek.

May I suggest an idea other than merger which I believe deserves a thorough, serious examination before too many more mergers happen.

Why not let the eight or nine smallest schools in the area transform their teams to eight-man football?

There are serious problems of transportation and scheduling with mergers. Eight-man football would ease these problems. Also, with eight-man football, more kids would have an opportunity to participate.

If two schools with 35 kids each have eight-man teams then 70 kids get to play. If they merge to form one 11-man team, 20 kids will be denied an opportunity to play.

Most kids and most parents would choose to have their kids play at home rather than on somebody else’s field a long way down the road.

Most people (kids and parents) would rather see their kids on the field than on the bench. Ask a kid if he wants to be on the field playing for his home school or on the bench for someone else’s school down the road.

There is historical precedent for the idea that football teams do not necessarily have to be eleven man.

In the 1950s many of the smaller schools in this area played six man football and it worked and it was good until the numbers swelled with the postwar baby boom.

Eleven is not a sacred number. Let us ask if eight might be just as good as 11 for some of us.

Larry Zollinger is a South Dayton resident.