Why Youth Football Shouldn’t be Banned- Coach Rick Mantz
How do you feel about the measure A3760 which would prohibit children under age 12 from participating in tackle football?
I am concerned and disappointed. Football is a great game- it can help in so many ways and it can be taught safely from young ages. Football does so much to help young people develop. It would be a shame to not let kids play.
What are some life lessons/skills kids learn when they play youth football?
Kids learn about teamwork- overcoming adversity, dealing with challenges and pushing themselves. They bond with teammates and coaches unlike other sports and they develop mental- physical and emotional toughness. Football is not easy- kids learn that they can achieve and develop courage and It can be done in a safe way. People who never played don’t fully understand the rewards and the confidence and self –esteem that develops through playing football
Why do you feel youth football is under attack? There are bans proposed in several states, those states include: CA, NJ, NY, and IL.
All of us are concerned about safety. When you hear stories about football players being linked to depression – folks are concerned about head trauma. We all should be. Football is vastly different today. I played in the 1970s-80s and we didn’t have trainers. We did not understand about hydration and about concussions. The helmets and the equipment were very different. Our practices and the contact and the collisions were very different. Football today is in many ways the same game that we all loved- but is being taught and enjoyed differently and much safer than ever before and folks don’t realize that.
If kids can’t play football until high school, what are some of the implications?
My concern is that if kids are denied the opportunity to participate in football as youngsters, they may never want to embrace it as they get older and might miss the chance to enjoy the experience and all that football offers. Tackle football is played at the pop warner level like little league baseball and soccer and other youth sports. More concussions actually occur in soccer and cheerleading than occur in football through youth and high school levels. I am concerned that the experience and all of the positive things that come through football will never occur. Our nation is seeing a rise in childhood obesity rates. Young people need more opportunities to participate in more activities – Not less.
How important are youth football programs to high school football programs?
Many youngsters develop a love for most sports and activities at an early age. Skills and bonds are developed and grow as the children grow. Many of the High School programs develop relationships with their local youth groups and the players understand about more than just the game as they grow up in a community. Behaviors and expectations are often established early through the high school teams and their modeling at the high school level helps inspire the local youngsters.
How has football evolved over the years in regards to safety, equipment, and league rules?
Virtually all high school programs mandate that their players and coaches take courses and tests about overall safety, Heat acclimatization, hydration and head and neck safety in tackling. Many schools offer pre-tests with software programs like “Impact” to establish baseline mental cognitive levels for student athletes so if they sustain any sort of head injury –they can be retested and monitored for a potential concussion. School doctors and Trainers also have protocols in place to assure that injured players don’t return to play unless they have been assessed and treated and allowed to return via a Physician approval. Coaches all understand so much more about the game and how we teach it. Live contact is limited. The way we teach tackling by removing the head and using shoulders is preventing injuries and still allowing kids to play the game hard and safely.
The rules are also demanding that “Targeting” opponents through vicious “blind-side” hits are illegal and players are flagged and or ejected for such hits and coaches are constantly reminding players about this. The new equipment that our players wear and the way they are fitted is completely different and much safer than any other time. Better technology- means lighter, stronger safer helmets and pads. The requirement that all equipment be inspected and recertified each year along with youth and high school coaches being certified in how to fit and dress players to assure their safety is all makes the game safer today. Athletic trainers must be present for all practice and team physicians must be present for all games also helps assure that players are safer and being treated and monitored better.
Click the image below to sign the petition to save youth football in New Jersey
Rick Mantz- Rutgers Football 732-515-1607 [email protected]