In Rural America, School Sports Dying with The Population
Stories about the death of a school, and/or its sports, being the symbolic nail in the coffin of a rural town aren’t new, but you’re probably going to see a lot more of them, like this Omaha World-Herald longform (called that because it has nifty graphics and such) about the death spiral of football in rural Nebraska. The piece is by Dirk Chatelain, who earlier chronicled how the declining supply of Great Plains talent helped explain in part why the University of Nebraska’s recruiting classes were coming from farther afield (that has nifty graphics, too).
The niftiest graphic in Chatelain’s latest piece, which focuses on one rural Catholic school program as a symbol of decline, is a map in which you can use a drag bar to show the slow drip of schools dropping the sport over the last 30 years, adding up to a lake of empty gridirons, or some watery metaphor.
In 1983, 355 Nebraska high schools had football programs, while in 2013 only 282 did. There was no one big year in which football (or schools) disappeared; if that had been the case, then maybe people could hold out hope once the few bad years were over, things would stabilize. But those red dots on the map, especially in the central and western part of the state, keep disappearing, a few at a time, every year.
To read the full article, please click here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/bobcook/2013/12/27/in-rural-america-school-sports-dying-with-the-population/
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