With the recent admission by the NFL there exists a link between CTE from head injuries & football, emotions have run high. One owner calling the link “absurd” to a coach saying you’re a “fool” if your don’t let your kid play football, it hits all spectrums. Yes, there are many good reasons to play sports, particularly football such as it builds teamwork, character, relationships, teaches good life lessons, and so much more. On the other hand, from a safety perspective, could there be some change in the culture and maintain a “gladiator / true warrior mentality” of toughness, strength and competition? One unfortunate aspect is coaches, parents and players rewarding or encouraging the violence in sport, living out their desires in a fantasy manner. Another aspect is teasing the concussed, calling them “soft” or challenging if they really have a concussion. This only brings suspicions, doubt, depression, as well as other negative consequences and delays change.
The answer to the question raised is yes, changes need to be made and are coming. Coaches would actually have to spend time teaching fundamentals, proper tackling techniques and re-inforcing “see what you hit” and not lowering the head or targeting. Less contact in practice would help as well, overall reducing the injury rate and keeping players fresher through the long season. A good place to start implementing change is with spring practice as coaches use the hitting portions to separate the weak from the strong. Using spring to actually coach and teach whole probably bring about better execution. During the fall practices with the younger or middle school kids I believe it would show we see higher rates of concussion and fractures as they are younger an less mature. I once had a coach in late October still running Oklahoma drills, when questioned he responded “we still need to see who can hit.”
There will be resistance but can’t we work to find a balance? Winning is great and I’ve been fortunate to be a part of some great championship teams but I also empathize with the pain when kids are injured as well.
Let’s work together to keep football (and all sports) in their proper perspective in life while growing and developing aspects to keep them all safe and enjoyable. Come on now, take a breath and think about it.