Sherry-Go-Round: Making football safer
by Sherry Kughn
Special to The Star
Sep 10, 2013 | 2333 views |  0 comments | 78 78 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Finally, enough parents are concerned about head and other bodily injuries to football players that coaches are taking notice. It’s about time.

There are several reasons why change is imminent: parents and players are upset about the news that officials did not report the seriousness of concussions, many aging football players are now struggling with football-related health problems, and people are questioning whether so much aggression is necessary to the enjoyment of the game.

Addressing these issues might change the game for the better, but some people don’t think so.

Some leaders in the sports industry fear that football will become dull to watch. Team owners and coaches fear that fewer fans will mean less revenue for the professional teams. Coaches of young people are worried about the end of a sport they love; and they, too, may be forced to trim budgets if interest in football wanes. What is more important, though, than good health?

An Indianapolis, Indiana-based group called USA Football consists of high school coaches and other youth sports leaders who want the game to stay around and be safer. They meet periodically to discuss issues related to youth football. The medical director for the organization had something to say about the drop in participation in youth sports last year. “We have to evolve,” he said in a March 3 article in “USA Today.” “If we don’t, we are going to be yesterday’s news.”

Those of us who remember the times before the 1970s when coaches (and band directors) did not give water breaks. (I was in the band.) It was considered a sign of strength to practice in 80- and 90-degree weather without drinking water.

However, medical professionals studied and released information about the dangers of heat stroke. Coaches and everyone else involved in outdoor youth activities heeded the information and experienced no downturn in participation.

As a grandmother of a 12-year-old football player, I was pleased to find and read the “USA Today” article, if only to ease some of my anxiety about him getting injured. I read in the article that the recommendations the USA Football group is making to improve the safety of the game. They are as follows:

● Coaches should be trained to spot concussions, which are not always immediately apparent after a player has been injured.

● Players should practice a new way of tackling called rip. It is a way the tackler should grab the back of a jersey instead of wrapping the arms around the ball carrier.

● Coaches should encourage less aggression on the field and teach players other techniques of playing safer.

Perhaps these and other measure will be implemented, such as encouraging fans and cheerleaders to use less aggressive words toward their team’s foes.

I will admit to being an unsupportive mother of two high school football players back during the 1990s. I could not bear to watch them get injured.

I was happy when each one quit playing after only a season, decisions each made alone.

My lack of support for their desire to play probably contributed in a small way toward their decisions, but at least neither of them ever had a concussion or a broken bone from playing football.

During my grandson’s first junior-high game last week, I never felt as if the players were playing too aggressively. Maybe the word about making football a safer game has reached his coaches.

Coaches are trained teachers, and like all other teachers, they should have the best interest of the students and players foremost in their minds. If they can resolve these current issues, football will survive, parents will be happier, and football players will be safer.

Go to the search engine to read the “USA Today” article and type in “Coaches gather to fix football.”

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Sherry-Go-Round: Making football safer by Sherry Kughn
Special to The Star

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