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Gimme a break on all this apocalyptic football concussion stuff

Posted by John T. Reed on

The anti-football stuff is getting comical. All movements go to far, and this is another example of it.

If you want to outlaw, outlaw injuries, not a sport. An anti-concussion law would change not only football but also soccer, skateboarding, cheerleading, touch football, flag football, ice hockey, field hockey, lacrosse, gymnastics, riding in motor vehicles, forget motorcycles, skiing, boxing, martial arts, baseball, softball, rugby.

I played tackle football off and on from sandlot to high school to college intramural at West Point to eight-man tackle in an Army intramural league. I was the second leading scorer on the league champion team. My oldest son splayed continuously from age eight through age 21, the last four in the Ivy League. My middle and youngest sons played a few years of youth and high school tackle. As far as I know, none of us ever had a concussion. I saw stars a number of times.

My oldest and youngest sons were tailbacks. The oldest also returned kicks in high school and the Ivy League. I was a running back in sandlot but I was a place kicker and D end in high school and later. The only concussion I remember seeing was a freshman playing on my youngest son’s JV team. He did not know where he was. He later starred on the varsity and was a walk-on at Cal.

It is not for everyone, but I think it is the greatest team sport on earth. I loved it. My oldest son loved it. It got him into the Ivy league (accepted by Columbia, Dartmouth, and Yale) and a bunch of great D-III high-academic teams like Williams, Amherst, Pomona. My youngest son loved coaching it but less so playing. Middle son was not a team sport guy.

Parents should NOT be stopping their kids from playing. Rather, they should let the kid play if he wants, and watch closely to make sure the team and league are properly officiated. The youth teams I was involved with had high school referees on the field. One flag league a son played in had high school players officiating. What a disaster. That was not only concussions waiting to happen, it was skull-fractures waiting to happen (no helmets). 

Paradoxically, youth football is one of the safest sports because it is one of a few with weight limits. Youth bodies do not suffer the injuries of older players like ACL, cramps, muscle pulls. The worst I saw was the occasional broken collar bone or forearm. When a player missed games because of injuries, it was usually because of a skateboard injury or injury from the prior season sport. When the ambulance came to our practice field, it was usually for a hurt cheerleader, not a football player.

Finally, one listening to this flurry of attacks might think football was just invented. It has been played since 1869. It was too dangerous in the 19th century and early 20th century, but they cleaned it up in the 1905 to 1910 era.

America has long been led by former football players like Eisenhower, Reagan, Ford, Byron White (SCOTUS), Heath Shuler (Congressman), Jack Kemp (ditto and VP candidate), Roger Staubach (real estate), Alan Page (Justice MN Supreme Court), Steve Largent (Congress), Jeff Immelt (GE CEO), Hank Paulson (Goldman, Treasury) (those last two played at Dartmouth), Moynihan (B of A).

To watch all the anti-football concussion stuff, one would think we former football players were all in homes for the memory impaired.

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