There’s this show that comes on Tuesday nights on the Esquire network called “Friday Night Tykes” (great show to watch if you haven’t seen it yet), and it’s quite possibly my favorite show to television. (At least on Tuesday nights).
The show takes place in the state of Texas, yes Texas, where football is up there with Jesus (and guns). The show is basically shows how cruel the game of football can be, on the players, coaches and sometimes parents (most of the time its the parents who are cruel) But, this season the show really went deep to give the audience an inside look into what goes down during the practices, during preparation for games,how the coaches deal with rowdy parents and what goes down on the sidelines (usually just a bunch of cursing. One thing that really caught my eye throughout this season is the fact that during many of the games the kids are knocking each other out due to the poor tackle techniques during the games and practices. Instead of trying to fix the problem to problem by teaching the students better form, they show the coaches in a more negative way, only concentrating on the outcome of the game more than the safety of the kids (unless something really devastating happens).
This show is some of the more extreme examples of how coaches pay attention to concussion-type situations, but I’m sure this is not the only example in America where something like this has happened. Concussions in the football has been on the rise for years for all levels of the game, and parents are fearful of their children’s well-being. Pop Warner, the nation’s No. 1 youth football organization, saw participation drop 9.5 percent between 2010-12, (that was almost 24,000 kids) a sign that the concussion crisis that began in the NFL is having a dramatic impact at the lowest rungs of the sport.
The Centers for Disease Control and Protection reported that the amount of reported concussions in sports has doubled in the last 10 years, while football is the most common sport with concussion risk for males (75% chance for concussion). In high school, football accounts for 47 percent of all reported sports concussions, with 33 percent of concussions occurring during practice.
Multiple concussions for athletes can lead to bigger problems and disease down the road, including mild cognitive impairments (MCI’s) and/or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the same disease that took the life of NFL Hall of Famer Junior Seau.
So, how do we fix the problem? Or a better question is, CAN we fix this problem in this kind of sport?
The game of football is rough, PERIOD. It’s a game that involves knock the crap out of each while trying to bring each other to the ground (there’s more but I’m trying to make a point). Sometimes they’re freak accidents, bad things can happen when you’re running straight into each other and serious injuries can arise.
One thing that can save those trips to the emergency room: teach proper tackling skills at the youth level.
The NFL and organizations like USA Football have been pushing better safety procedures in youth football, mainly on tackling. Since the program “Heads Up” was created, the number of concussion have been brought down slightly, but still needs to be worked on.
I grow up with football, I played football and I hope that if I ever have a son(s) he too would go out and play football. Yes, it can be a violent game at times and you can’t control soe of the injuries that take place in the game, but the life lesson I picked up can’t be found anywhere else. It shows you how everything that you want in life comes with a price, a price many can’t commit to. The amount of sweat,tears and memories produced while playing is something I would take with me forever and I would go back and do it all over again in a heart beat. Sports like football is something I think young boys (even girls) need in their lives, and I hope the fear of getting a concussion or worse doesn’t keep children from such great opportunity.
For more information on concussion prevention in youth sports, visit: usafootball.com/headsup