Football, like so many other sports, has become specialized.
And specialized means expensive.
On the field, the past 10 years has seen a widening gap between Clark County high schools in wealthy and poor areas.
The reason? Economically stressed athletes struggle to meet the sport’s growing year-round demands.
Columbia River coach John O’Rourke said he started noticing the change about 15 years ago.
“There is a real emphasis now on the private trainer, helping you improve both your conditioning and your statistics,” said O’Rourke, now in his 20th season as River’s head coach. “That put a lot of pressure on people to get enough money to go to camps. Even at our school, there are a significant number of students who need some kind of financial assistance (to attend camps).”
It wasn’t long ago when high school football really was a one- or a two-season sport.
Work out in the summer in the school’s weight room, then maybe go to a camp for a week before practice starts in August.