Photo: Ron Schwane/AP

The New York Times ran a story this morning on USA Football’s annual conference down in Orlando where officials met and discussed, among many other issues, the precipitous decline of youth participation numbers. They’re trying to correct the course of a sport that’s seen the amount of boys ages 6 to 12 playing organized tackle football fall by 20 percent since 2009. Most of their solutions involve trying to reconfigure the game so that players hit each other less.

Organizers stressed that the sport was at a crossroads and that something needed to be done. Enthusiastic ESPN NFL yowler Jon Gruden was a keynote speaker at the event and he brought up an important threat to football as we know it: geniuses.

“There are a lot of geniuses out there that are diminishing football right now,” said Jon Gruden, a former coach of the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who now works as an analyst for ESPN. “There are a lot of geniuses that are trying to damage the game, and ruin the game. Do you feel it? There are a lot of geniuses that want to eliminate all sports, including recess.”

The people were with him.

“Not on my watch, and clap your hands if you’re with me on that,” he added, to loud applause.

If we truly do need to make football dumber, then congratulations to the San Francisco 49ers for doing their parts.

[New York Times]