Comments about ‘Strong views voiced on whether competitive football is good for children’

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Published: Wednesday, Feb. 5 2014 5:50 a.m. MST

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Flashback
Kearns, UT

Football in and of itself isn't bad. What is bad is the way players are taught to play the game. Every season I hear coaches say, "that's how I learned". Well, things have changed. Using proper coaching techniques, coaches can go a long ways toward minimizing injuries, especially head injuries. Proper equipment also is important. Helmets should fit properly.

Football isn't any worse than any other sport. I played football for several years and never had an injury that I knew of (I did get a broken wrist but never new it until months later). I can't say that from playing basketball, skiing, playing baseball, etc. My three concussions that I know of happened while shoveling snow, taking a charge in basketball, a car wreck.

Scott1
Quiet Neighborhood, UT

Good article.

rvalens2
Burley, ID

All sports have risks, but then life is full of risks.

I fell down yesterday as I was shoveling my driveway. I came close to fracturing my arm and dislocating my shoulder. I'm in pain even as I write this, but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop shoveling my driveway.

I made a "choice" to shovel my driveway, in the same way, that others choose to play sports.

I, for one, would hate to see well intentioned, but misguided people protect me from life.

oldcougar
Orem, UT

I distinctly remember an interview, years ago, on KSL radio by Paul James of Lavell Edwards and Merlin Olsen. It was a wide ranging interview, but the subject of youth football came up (little league, specifically). Paul asked them their opinions. Both of them, emphatically, said they would not allow their sons and would discourage their grandsons from playing. When asked why, coach Edwards said he felt it was too violent and that their little bodies were not developed well enough to absorb the punishment. James then asked them about developing young athletes' skills and they both recommended soccer as an alternative sport. I love football and played it through high school. At 64 I have arthritic knees and shoulders which I attribute to football injuries.

Confused
Sandy, UT

OldCougar,

What Lavell actually said was that kids should not play football until they are 12. That way the growth plates and such have less risk of permanent damage.

Happen to agree....

patriot
Cedar Hills, UT

when I see boys ...9th grade and below...playing tackle football I just have to cringe. The growth plates are still forming and so is the brain and to subject these young bodies to a high impact sport like football at that age is wrong. Play flag football instead up to the 9th grade. Allow boys to obtain many of the sills without the risk of injury. I have noticed many former NFL players NOT allowing their boys to play football at all...stating that the game is just too violent today. If your son is built for football come high school age and has good body mass and strength then go for it but I think too many young boys have no business playing tackle football and end up getting seriously hurt thus preventing them from playing other sports.

Cleetorn
Fuaamotu, Tonga

In San Antonio, youth football may be all about kids being “forced to run until they vomit and coaches constantly telling players they're worthless,” but I have serious doubts that they are the flagship of this program. I was heavily involved in the teams my son played in while he was growing up. That’s not what our experiences were.

Granted, there were many times when the coaches pushed him to work harder and reach further than he then could. But they praised his efforts and helped him to develop a sense of accomplishment he may not have been able to get in other avenues. Those dividends have continued to pay him as he has grown into adulthood. I’m not saying that everybody’s youth football experiences ranked up there with ours but I don’t think they were unique, either.

Texas boasts that football is almost an industry in their state and that’s all fine and dandy. But if they want the human touch, maybe they should model parts of their programs to emulate some of ours.

Ed Grady
Idaho Falls, ID

I'm not a big fan of youth football. Fortunately football is a sport that kids can learn quickly after they've matured physically and have developed the mindset to play a physical sport. I used to cringe when I watched psycho parents scream at their 10-year-old kids to "kill that guy." The poor kids had no idea what was going on.

sknny tires fat skis
Cottonwood Heights, UT

I didn't play as a kid, but I have coached my two sons on separate gremlins teams. It was a great experience. All of the boys learned to work, follow instructions, take criticism and learn to be physical. We did have one concussion in the two years. Two boys, both on offence, collided face mask to face mask. We never had any tackle result in a serious injury and most injuries were complaints that someone had stepped on another boy's arm/hand/leg.

All in all I would recommend football as a great team sport, a great way to meet lots of other kids, a great way to gain self-confidence, a great way to learn how to follow and execute instructions, a great way stay fit, a great way to interact with adults who care about the boys and about performance and the list goes on (focus, intensity, doing your job matters, competition etc etc etc.). It may not be for everyone, but it is certainly not something we should be criticizing in a world where we are worried about boys growing up to be listless vagabonds (see DesNews other stories).

Coog Fan in Spokane
Spokane, WA

While the concern over the potential physical toll should not be discounted, I think American Football is the greatest team sport ever invented. With its combination of varied skill sets and wide range of vital physical attributes, its intense focus on teamwork and coordination, and its scalability to all levels from youth to the pros, football provides unique opportunities to a wide range of youth.

As far as the youth game is concerned, the best and safest experiences hinge on three aspects:

1 - Positive coaching: coaches need to focus on each player having a positive experience wherever possible.

2 - Teaching sound fundamentals: use of proper technique, team skills and field awareness actually minimize exposure to injury.

3 - Minimize unsafe situations: youth leagues typically enforce weight requirements for carrying the ball, encouraging more advanced youth to "play up," where appropriate, etc. Some kids (or parents) insist on playing when they probably shouldn't, so coaches need to exercise good judgment to help these kids feel some sense of success and achievement without putting them in dangerous situations.

I agree that flag football is a great option for kids up to age 12 or 13. My youngest played both, and enjoyed flag much more than tackle.

ute alumni
SLC, UT

oldcougar
it is called aging

ChrisO
Tustin, CA

You can't spank your kid, but a parent can put their child in a sport that will beat the crap out of their body and possibly cause serious injury. I've seen boys bawling and parents screaming at them to 'man up'. It's one thing to play a sport where they might get accidentally injured, it's another to put your child in a position to run head on into another player trying to knock them down intentionally.

If football wasn't THE cool thing to have your kid do, would you still do it? It has become an American cultural phenom to prove who has the toughest, coolest kid. Absurd.

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