KCBS_740 SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — The new high school football season continues a recent trend in California: fewer kids are playing the game.

As the number of concussions continues to rise, the participation rate is falling.

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Kids still play football in the street or their backyard, but fewer California kids are strapping on helmets and playing for their high school.

Rebecca Brutlag with the California Interscholastic Federation says only 100,000 will play high school football this fall, down from 103,000 last year, and 107,000 thousand nine years ago. She says the decline in kids playing Pop Warner and in other youth leagues is trickling up.

“Children were maybe not participating at a younger age, and now we’re seeing that reflected at a high school-level,” Brutlag told KCBS.

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While there’s a 7-percent drop in players, there’s been a 57-percent increase in head injuries over the same period.

Brutlag says the CIF has responded with better equipment, and new rules.

“We have practice time allowance now. No more 18 hours of practice time a week,” Brutlag said.

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Brutlag says track and field has overtaken football as the most popular participant sport, and more kids are switching to soccer.