Today marks the official end of the football season. Yep, that’s right, it’s the holiday we commonly refer to as Super Bowl Sunday. As NFL football games will cease competition for a while, youth football camps and combines will keep the sport going for the next several months. Oh yes, and the spirited safety debate and discussion pertaining to youth football will continue to make news headlines. It will certainly be a busy offseason.
Here’s something that has our attention-
Politicians in New York City recently introduced a bill to have doctors at youth football games and practices. At the onset, this sounds like remarkable news, now doctors will be on call should a parent pass out while excited in the bleachers or if a coach hyperventilates over a missed call. Right? After further review, doctors will actually be in attendance at pee wee football games so players can be screened for concussion symptoms after a big hit, similar to what is the norm at high school games. The truth is, concussions do not happen at the youth level if the participants are well coached. We attended the Pop Warner and AYF Championships in Florida, observed numerous games and witnessed not a single head injury. Nothing even close. A doctor’s time would surely be wasted. Furthermore, an on-call doctor would be a reactive action, rather than a preventative measure- focus should shift 100% to proper football tackling instruction for coaches and players.
Let’s examine what this introduced youth football safety bill could mean for youth football in New York City.
- Physicians will charge $100 or more per game, an extra expense that will likely have to be paid by families. If doctors are also to be required at practices then the fee gets astronomical per team as practices are often 4-5 times per week. If doctors aren’t required to be at practices, where the likelihood of concussions most exists due to the amount of time spent at practice, then the purpose is defeated.
- A decrease in the amount of youth football participants due to the incremental fees of playing the game. This would be true especially in poorer areas, areas in the city where kids need a structured football environment.
- Doctors would likely replace EMS or trainers at games (as costs would be high to keep both on field). EMS/ trainers are better equipped to handle more common injuries that occur in youth sports.
If pee wee football games require physicians at games and practices, then youth soccer, hockey, and other sports should also do the same. Football is a game that progressing with safety measures faster than all of the other sports combined. Technology, sports science and other initiatives are making the great sport of football, even better. We implore New York City to shift youth football safety attention to where it belongs- coaching instruction.