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Lower turnout may force Juneau schools to merge teams

By Dave Goldman 4:11 PM May 11, 2017

We take it for granted: having enough players on our high school teams. But what happens when there aren’t enough?

It’s a problem facing various sports and extra curricular activities at Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain High Schools. The Juneau Empire reported that school officials in Juneau are considering merging football, the football cheer squads, softball and robotics. In some cases, it’s numbers of players; in others, it’s money.

On Wednesday, KTVA Sports spoke with Juneau School District Superintendent Dr. Mark Miller by phone. He said the Juneau-Douglas football team finished its season with about 20 players, a number that’s realistically too low for any team to play and be competitive. Eleven players line up on either side of the football and then there’s the special teams unit to consider. Dr. Miller’s concern is focused on the safety of the kids.

“When you put a small freshman who has played one or two years of football and put him on a line against a senior who probably weighs well over 300 pounds and is potentially going to play Division I or Division II college ball the next year, it’s a good way to get someone hurt,” he said.

The idea of consolidation has already been implemented. Tennis, wrestling and drama debate and forensics were combined. This upcoming year, Dr. Miller says no sports will be paired this next school. At the earliest, the next move will be 2018-19.

He says the goal is to keep these sports going for those who want to participate. The decreasing numbers are making it a challenge.

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