I have been eagerly awaiting the start of the concussions in football series presented by ESPN’s Outside the Lines. The kickoff of this week-long series was an interesting one as the discussion of youth football safety continues to in the spotlight.
The opening moments of the show featured former Jets WR great Al Toon and his son Nick Toon. Al was forced to retire from football at the age of 29 due to multiple concussions throughout his playing career. Al suffered after playing football and often asked himself the question- ‘Am I going to be like I was before, with a clear mind’. Interestingly, Toon still did encourage his son to play the game- Nick Toon was drafted by Saints in the 4th round of the 2012 draft.
Al Toon unfortunately played in a ‘tough it out’ football era where concussions were in many cases ignored. But times are changing. With exploding media interest regarding concussions and subsequently the response by helmet manufactures to constantly improve the safety of helmets, football is evolving. Coach Herman Edwards joined the discussion on ‘OTL’ to call football ‘a much safer sport’. He also noted that there are risks associated with playing football, but risks occur in our daily lives.
The discussion on youth football continued with two parents with differing views on playing the sport:
Ashley Fox, NFL columnist and mom – Against her child playing youth football due to the heightened risk of head trauma. Ashley talked about interviewing a 38 year old NFL pro-bowler that had great difficulty finding his keys, or remembering his mom’s phone number. Ashley did say the game is safer than it was 5 years ago but will not be involving her son in the sport.
Corie Elkin, USA Football Coach Mom- Is For her child playing youth football. Corie believes parents should remain proactive when it comes to safety- she says they should make sure coaches are teaching the game the correct way. This parent understands that playing youth football builds character, teaches discipline and promotes teamwork.
It is Youth Football Online’s belief that coaches that teach children need to be better trained with stricter safety certifications. Often times a daddy coach, with limited or no experience coaching, is asked to coach his kid’s team. If the coach is not aware of how to properly teach tackling then injuries most certainly would occur.
Pop Warner and other organizations are acting proactively with national rule changes in youth football. Their aim is to limit the amount of hits to a maximum of one-third of practice time. Coach Herm Edwards noted on ‘OTL’ that ‘how you practice is important’.
We should also consistently address measures to prevent concussions, these include:
- Eliminate mismatches at practice time
- Make sure all kids are engaged on what’s going on on the football field (not daydreaming)
- Hydration/Nutrition is always imperative- energy matters
- Should a player be dizzy or have double vision, player must sit out and get medical attention
- Educate all coaches about concussions and safety
Let’s discuss on twitter (@youth_football) or on Facebook (facebook.com/youthfootballonline).