North Bergen approves shared services agreement with WNY for youth football

Towns are struggling due to COVID-19 and fear of concussions, Mayor Nicholas Sacco said

Mayor Sacco talks to North Bergen youth football players. Photo by Art Schwartz
Mayor Sacco talks to North Bergen youth football players. Photo by Art Schwartz

North Bergen has entered into an agreement with West New York for children to participate in the township’s youth football program.

The Board of Commissioners approved the shared services agreement with West New York for the program at the Oct. 20 meeting. Under the resolution, children from West New York are now permitted to partake in the North Bergen Department of Parks and Recreation’s Youth Football Program leagues for 13 to 14 year olds.

The move to allow West New York players into the programs is a result of low enrollment due to COVID-19 and other factors, Mayor Nicholas Sacco said.

“Due to COVID-19 and concussion theories and other things, football has been struggling in a lot of towns,” Sacco said. “West New York, I think, was down to four eighth graders… They can’t run a program at that level. They can run other ones, but not at that level.”

Sacco said that West New York and other towns in the area have been struggling recently, even North Bergen.

“We barely squeaked out having an eighth grade season last year,” Sacco said. “We have on this year.”

Helping out neighbors

However, North Bergen at least has been able to recover. According to Sacco, there are several teams encompassing all levels of the township’s program this year.

“Now we have the teams,” he said. But other towns are still struggling. Sasso said that COVID-19 paired with fear of concussions has driven people away from the sport.

“They make people very afraid of concussions, even with a lot of misleading information,” he said.

According to Sacco, the rules have changed and the sport is safer now. The risk of getting a concussion is no higher than playing soccer or other sports, he said.

“They made it a lot safer, but its still hard,” Sacco said of putting together a youth football program. “COVID made it harder. But we are able to accommodate the West New York football players.”

The agreement lasts only for this season, Fall 2021, and will include North Bergen providing busing at the township’s expense for the West New York children.

“They’ll be able to have a years experience before they go back to Memorial High School,” Sacco said.

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