NEW YORK PREDATORS: Predator News: Semi-Pro Football booming in the US

Semi-Pro Football booming in the US

Courtesy of the AFA

While a few recent surveys in the sporting goods marketplace show a declining number of athletes who participate in youth, high school and college tackle football programs nationwide, the semi-pro football market in the United States is booming.

According to the American Football Association, the number of teams playing organized semi-pro football in this country has risen nearly 37% in the past five years. The AFA is in its 25th year of operation as the national association for semi-pro football teams and leagues coast-to-coast and ‘power rates’ on a weekly basis each of the teams in the 60 different leagues that make up the AFA.

In 1999, when the AFA started its power rating database system, they tracked 417 teams playing 1945 games, in 51 leagues. In 2003, the AFA monitored and power rated a total of 3,352 games played by 657 teams participating in 60 different leagues. There are currently over 50,000 active semi-pro football players, coaches, team (and league) administrators, trainers, equipment managers, game officials, and even cheerleaders continuing their post- college and high school football careers on the semi-pro level of the sport.

“In the past (five) years, we have increased the number of teams we deal with from 417 to our present count of 657”, says the AFA president, Ron Real from his Sarasota, Florida national office. “That’s an increase of nearly 37% in overall membership while only increasing the number of leagues by nine. What that number indicates is that our member leagues have done a great job of adding new teams to their existing leagues”, added Real.

At the conclusion of the 2003 semi-pro football season, the AFA had entered the scores of 13,113 games on a national level. Those game scores and the point differentials between teams and leagues are all sorted in the database and made ready for this years (2004) AFA ‘power ratings’.

Last December, the AFA sponsored its 23rd annual Semi-Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Dinner. Over the past two decades, the AFA/HOF has enshrined 431 semi-pro football legends into its Hall of Fame. The Class of 2003 was inducted at a ceremony that was held at the Radisson Lido Beach Resort Hotel in Sarasota, Florida. The Radisson, which is located on the beach, became the site of the first-ever AFA Hall of Fame "old timers game". Details and photos from the historic old timers game can be found in the AFA/HOF’s January newsletter (“And The Legends Live On”) or by visiting the national association’s website at www.AmericanFootballAssn.com.

By Dave Burch, Director of Media Relations, American Football Association