An Entire College Team Gives Up Football

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Down to 28 players, the Grinnell team voted to call it quits with seven games left, out of concern for its own welfare and as a protest over the administration’s level of support. ImageGrinnell College players voted to cancel the remaining seven games of their football season, saying the team wasn’t supported enough to be competitive and stay healthy.CreditCreditDaniel Acker for The New York TimesOct. 9, 2019GRINNELL, Iowa — Professors have asked Max Hill if he is O.K. David Taylor has received hugs from classmates and workers in the dining hall. Rick Johnson has been wondering why he is suddenly hungry when he is studying at night, before realizing he ate dinner early, at 5 p.m., a time when he used to be at football practice.Then there is the empty football stadium they walk past.The three seniors, along with their Grinnell College teammates and coaches, began getting used to a new normal last week: life without football.In the midst of another desultory season and with barely enough healthy players to field a team, Grinnell announced last week that it had canceled the remaining seven games on its schedule out of concern for the welfare of its players.The players voted overwhelmingly to end the season as a protest of what they saw as a consistent lack of support from the administration, something the players say has contributed to the team starting each of the last four seasons with fewer than 40 players, less than half of most opponents on their schedule. After a series of injuries, the team was down to 28 healthy players last week.One player called the decision a cry for help.“We’ve all had that ‘hoo-rah’ mentality where this is our year, we’ll change it,” said Taylor, a lithe receiver from Mount Vernon, Iowa. “But it’s come down to where we’re fighting a losing battle, and we know it. This is our tipping point, and we really just want to see change. We’re sacrificing our senior season for it.”The place of football in America’s cultural landscape is increasingly in doubt as the the sport reckons with the effects of brain trauma and participation declines at the youth level. Things are no different at Grinnell, a small, exclusive liberal arts college that plays on the Division III level, where there are no athletic scholarships.The school draws its approximately 1,700 students from around the United States and beyond to a quaint campus in central Iowa. The question of what to do with football led to soul-searching long before the players convened a vote.Raynard S. Kington, the college’s president since 2010, has a doctorate in health policy and economics, and last year he

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