NFL and NFHS team-up to support and promote high school football

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The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the National Football League are teaming-up to promote the sport of high school football.

On Wednesday, NFHS Executive Director Dr. Karissa Niehoff was joined by NFL veteran lineman Roman Oben, who currently serves as the NFL Vice President, Strategy and Development, Youth and High School Football, and former NFL quarterback Chad Pennington, who is a high school football head coach at Sayre High School in Kentucky, on a video conference to announce the partnership. According to an NFHS news release, the aim of the first-ever partnership between the two is to promote “the growth, understanding and support for football at the high school level.”

Related: Chad Pennington named high school football head coach

As a part of the partnership funded by the NFL, the NFHS will work to develop and execute a strategic plan with the primary objective of promoting high school football.

A major focus of the NFHS-NFL partnership will involve surveying of state high school association administrators, high school student-athletes, parents, coaches and officials with regard to their experiences in football and the benefits of participation. The NFHS will be working with UpMetrics on various survey instruments as a part of the arrangement.

Excerpt of NFHS News Release

“This partnership champions the preservation and growth of high school football by reinforcing the life-changing values unique to the game,” said Roman Oben, who played offensive tackle in the NFL for twelve years. “The NFHS and NFL will work together to promote player protection best practices and emphasize that high school football equips young people for success both in the classroom and in life by inspiring character, leadership, resilience, teamwork and other vital transferable life skills.”

One of the chief tasks of the partnership is to identify, inform and educate participants, partners, associations, government and media around the benefits and values of participating in high school football.

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As a part of the strategic plan for promoting high school football, the NFHS will engage a Senior Consultant for High School Football Promotion who will lead these efforts to expand visibility and reach of interscholastic football participation, develop key messaging around high school football best practices and player protection efforts, manage opportunities that impact the growth and reputation of high school football, and collaborate with other organizations in the high school football community. 

While boys participation in 11-player football has exceeded one million participants every year since 1999 and remains overwhelmingly the most popular boys sport, there have been concerns about slight declines in past years. Through this partnership, the NFHS and NFL hope to better understand participation trends, identify areas for potential educational emphasis, and restore confidence on the part of all stakeholders that the sport is, in fact, more focused on risk minimization than ever before.  

Excerpt of NFHS News Release

“This is a fantastic opportunity for the NFHS and the NFL to work together to help ensure the long-term viability of high school football,” said Dr. Karissa Niehoff, NFHS executive director. “We are appreciative of the NFL’s commitment to helping us provide educational resources and messaging about the benefits of high school football. The timing could not be better as many high school and NFL teams begin their seasons during these challenging times. This partnership provides much hope for the future of the sport in the years ahead.” 

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About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.