Throughout my life I think I may have played every sport available in the midwest. From soccer, to wrestling, to tennis, to travel basketball, to rugby, to cross county I played, and loved everyone of them. Each sport taught me different things.
A Coach’s Thoughts on the Youth Football Ban
Soccer taught me the delicate balance and touch required to control a ball with my feet. Tennis taught me how to manipulate angles and trajectory to attack an opponent. Wrestling taught me how to deal with the pressure of being alone in the ring with an opponent and the mental discipline required to get down to weight. Basketball taught me how to take care of my body so that I could play multiple games in a weekend and how to use and defend space. Rugby taught me how to deal with authority in a positive manner and how to leave negative feelings on a field. Cross Country taught me to focus on focusing on internal improvement instead of comparing myself to others. Football has a special place in my heart because it was the place where I met some of the biggest role models of my life and taught me more about teamwork than any other sport
I say this because of all of these sports, youth football, is the one under attack. Well meaning politicians and parents see football as a violent sport that leads to concussions. It’s important to take note that youth football is not the NFL. At the youth level concussions are incredibly rare, and as is pointed out in just about any academic paper on the subject, are much more likely to occur in a sport like cheerleading than in football, especially at the youth level.
To me the reality of youth sports is that all sports are great. I have a two year old son. I hear the constant question, will he play football, I think my response tends to catch people off guard. I always answer the same way, “I don’t know.” I don’t know because I don’t know if he will want to.
I know for myself I wanted to play football from the second I saw the pads and the physical contact. I was too physical for soccer and basketball (my most noteworthy accomplishment in the sport was getting a foul during the tip off, before the game started). I needed a sport like football, and through my time coaching I have seen I wasn’t alone.
I don’t want to deny my son, or any other kids, the opportunity to become involved in a sport, regardless of what that sport is. There is a certain demeanor of kid that is drawn to physical sports. If football is taken away it’s pretty safe to say that the other physical sports like wrestling and rugby will be next. When we are dealing with a nationwide obesity epidemic it’s hard for me to believe that taking away sports is ever the right answer.
Do we need to get better? Yes, of course. The strides that have been made by USA Football and other organisations have made the game safer than ever. But, just like we would tell our athletes to always work to get better, we need to continue to push to make the game safer.
In the end, sports are good. Kids having a passion that also serve to keep them physically fit and healthy not only leads to a decrease in obesity but also an increase classroom grades.
(See Also) Save Youth Football in New Jersey