This has been a terrific football season. The three teams that I live and die with have all three had a superior season.

The Blue Springs Wildcats have been ranked No. 1 in the state all year and will finish the season ranked in the top 10 in the nation. Northwest Missouri State University is ranked No. 2 in the country in NCAA Division II and will be trying to make another playoff run for the national championship. The Kansas City Chiefs are headed for a playoff berth and still have a chance at home-field advantage for the AFC playoffs.

I still can’t help but wonder what the future holds for football over the next 20 years. Many issues appear to be ahead for America’s most popular sport. The risk of sustaining a lifelong injury on the football field have many players and their parents questioning the value of participating in the game. A concussion injury is a very real possibility that deserves a deep understanding of how to safely handle it should it occur.

The old days of saying “shake it off and get back in the game” are totally over. Every player, coach, trainer, administrator and parent must be aware of the symptoms and how to deal with them. Awareness needs to begin at the earliest ages.

I have had numerous discussions with former players who have sons who are good young athletes. They have serious reservations about allowing their sons to play football. I recently visited with a local sports equipment salesman who has been working in the business for decades. He shared with me that football equipment sales have been plummeting over the past three years.

I have noticed the poor attendance at high school games compared to those of the past. I have also noticed a decrease in the level of competition. The great high school and college programs are still strong but the average team is much less competitive than in past years.

Many high school games result in a blowout score with a running clock. The number of athletes participating in the game of football has also dropped steadily all over the country.

Health and safety seem to be the No. 1 reason for the decrease in participation, but athletes also currently have more choices of sports in which to participate. Other sports offer a better chance to succeed with less risk of a serious injury.

ESPN and other media outlets do not hesitate to broadcast injury stories routinely. The future of football is going to lie in the ability to adapt to the changes.

Some old school coaches and players say they would not change a thing about their football career. I feel the same way. But insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again.

It is exactly the way for football people not to act. They must change with the times. They must understand the health risk of the sport. They must respond to these health risks in an educated and professional manner. They must address all these issues as young athletes begin to play the game at an early age.

Even though the country is crazy about the game right now, change, it is a coming. Life lessons are learned through the game of football. It teaches hard work, dedication, self-sacrifice and discipline. The word “team” defines football. Eleven players who work together on the field to accomplish a common goal on every play is a tremendous learning tool.

It is difficult to find the same spirit and cooperation in other parts of our society. Football is the American game. Those of us who love it need to learn to adjust to the changing climate to preserve it.

• The signing of Jason Vargas by the Royals did not exactly make fans jump for joy. We just need to relax and see how it all plays out. Ervin Santana was a big question mark last year but his acquisition turned out to be a great move. Too bad we only got one year out of him.

• The Royals will not be able to get rid of Billy Butler because in reality no one wants him. He is a one-tool player. He hits in the middle of the lineup, hits less than 20 home runs and drives in less than 100 runs each year. In addition, he is a walking, talking human double play in the middle of the lineup.

• College basketball is going to be a lot of fun this year. I am going early with KU, Kentucky, Duke and Michigan State as favorites to the Final Four. The recent games in Chicago were a rehearsal for the NCAA Tournament.

• I am loving the Chiefs’ season so far. But the team has one glaring weakness – receiver. Their entire receiving corps is unable to get separation in any pattern. Quarterback Alex Smith has no room for error in any pattern.

• My quote of the week comes from famous writer Robert Louis Stevenson: “You cannot run away from a weakness. You must sometimes fight it out or perish: and if that be so, why not now, and where you stand?”

Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 5-6 p.m. every Thursday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at