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NFL and head injuries - Is the NFL taking the right course?

 
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SeattleLionFan


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:59 pm    Post subject: NFL and head injuries - Is the NFL taking the right course? Reply with quote

I remember when I tried out for football in high school...at the time, I was a pretty good basketball player and the coach of the football team was looking for someone to play wide receiver.

I had never played organized football, I was always into B-Ball or baseball. But I figured what the heck...football players seem to get the cheerleaders so I tried out.

I went through 6 weeks of boot camp and when we finally got to the season opener, the coach decided to keep it in the ground. So I pretty much rode the bench until about 1/2 through the 4th quarter. We were down by at least 3-4 TD's and the coach finally decided to put in the air. He turned to me in my lilly white uniform with #87 emblazoned on it and said "You, get me a first down!"

So off I went, lined up and ran a perfect 10 yard curl and there was the ball. I turned upfield and then saw that the sun was blocked out of the sky. The biggest, meanest and loudest linebacker had me in his sights and was gonna lay me out.

My feet had other ideas as I put a move on him and ran like a scared little girl down the side lines for 80 yards for the score. Gave the football to the ref and the helmet to the coach and said "No way am I doing that again!"

The point of all this? It was to point out who is really accountable for head injuries.

I really don't want to see anyone lose their marbles after their career is over but it isn't like these players are forced into playing this game. At all levels, from Pee-Wee football on up to the NFL, players have to be held accountable for some of the responsibility.

Coaches are next in line. They should be monitored much more closely in how they instruct their players on the art of tackling. Any coach that teaches a player to launch himself lilke a ballsitic missle at another player should be fined and/or sacntioned for doing so.

Equipment is only going to help players so far...about the only real way to allow big hits is to have all the players dressed up like the Michelin Man...would cut down on any fast strike offense and the game would become boring.

And is the NFL looking at what the issue really is? They seem to be focusing more and more on the "big hits" instead of those that occur 50-60 times a game between defensive and offensive linemen. If you watch those guys, you have to wonder how the heck they remain standing at the end of a game!

I'm a big a fan as anyone watching a good, solid, clean hit like the one one Seahawk safety Kam Chancellor laid on 49'r TE Vernon Davis. It was one of the more perfect hits you will ever see...and it was clean. And yet, the NFL fined Chancellor $10,000 for hitting a defenensless player. He was doing his job in an attempt to dis-lodge the ball...I saw nothing wrong with that play.

There is no way that one fix is going to take care of this issue. As I said before, equipment can only protect players so much. But the players, for as fast as they play, need to re-tune themselves to not lead with the head. Wrap up the legs instead of attempting to rip a guys head off.

And the coaches, especially those teaching young kids, they really, really need to show these players proper tecnique instead of instilling them to "sacrifice your body for the good of the team."

What does everyone else think?
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IDOG_det


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with a lot of what you said. You'd think NFL players would be able to tackle somewhere besides the head.

My biggest problem though, is that the NFL doesn't really seem to be completely serious about this. Yes they try to make it a little better, but they could do a lot more. Not all the helmet types provide the same level of protection, and they actually have special helmets that are fitted with special padding that prevent concussions. Why arent these helmets mandatory?!? My high school just got 50-ish of the top of the line helmets, right after getting the top of the line helmets the previous 3 years. Why cant these NFL teams do the same (my school also doesn't have a whole lot of funding, but it still fit in the budget)?
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iLovetheLions


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IDOG_det wrote:
I agree with a lot of what you said. You'd think NFL players would be able to tackle somewhere besides the head.

My biggest problem though, is that the NFL doesn't really seem to be completely serious about this. Yes they try to make it a little better, but they could do a lot more. Not all the helmet types provide the same level of protection, and they actually have special helmets that are fitted with special padding that prevent concussions. Why arent these helmets mandatory?!? My high school just got 50-ish of the top of the line helmets, right after getting the top of the line helmets the previous 3 years. Why cant these NFL teams do the same (my school also doesn't have a whole lot of funding, but it still fit in the budget)?


BOOM right there, the best equipment possible should be mandatory, and the NFL should have an independent lab running tests on new and current equipment periodically,

I also heard somewhere that mouth guards arent mandatory, but that is crazy, they should absolutely be mandated, also hard chin straps, i still see a few players without them, should be mandated aswell

Although its hard to take the NFL seriously when they talk about player safety and wanting a 18 game season in the same breath, the players barely survive 16 games as it is

I also think there should be a waiver to protect the league from lawsuits from the players, i realize the former players didnt know much about the permanent damage they were causing to their bodies, so starting next year there should be a waiver as players now a days know full well, if you cant or dont want to accept some future risk work a 9-5 like the rest of us
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detfan782004


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think they are heading in right direction. I actually did a paper on this for school and some of the stats were very alarming.

A snip from the paper I found striking

Quote:
According to the New York Times, " a 2000 study surveyed 1,090 former N.F.L. players and found more than 60 percent had suffered at least one concussion in their careers and 26 percent had had three or more".


Another piece of the research

Quote:

In the same article from New York Times, it stated "a 2007 study conducted by the University of North Carolina's Center for the Study of Retired Athletes found that of the 595 retired N.F.L. players who recalled sustaining three or more concussions on the football field, 20.2 percent said they had been found to have depression




What i also mentioned in the paper is the double standard sent out. You have ESPN airing such shows as "Jacked Up" segments on their pre-game shows. NFL puts big hits on NFL.com and such.

It is really hard for them to enforce this while sending the message by advertising it essentially.


My problem however is at the youth sports level. When I coached the Pee-wee/Bantam level a couple years ago I was amazed at how far coaches and parents took things. I literally had to hide a kids helmet from our OC as I was treating a kid for a concussion on the sideline. The kid was crying and he had obvious concussion symptoms from my training and classes. This is my issue. MOST youth sports programs have volunteers who lack real knowledge on simple first aid let alone concussions. I sent this player to the ER with his father in Santa Barbara while the game as going on for tests. THe OC literally was screaming at me while I was coaching my defense that I lost him his star RB.

THe kid had a severe concussion and was not released to play rest of our season.


Youth sports is where the issue really is! Hands down. When I went up to Freshman squad the past two years the same thing. Coaches understood it better but parents did not. You could hear old school dads telling them to rub dirt on it and get back in there. Parents are trying to get the next payday and superstar.

It is a sad time.

This is just the first video I pulled up on youtube. 27 seconds in there is practice and meet me in the middle. WOW> THe coach should get a beating. The kid could cause serious neck damage. We would pull that kid aside and talk to him big time

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rx1p09hCqE

Football is violent and people want to see the hits.

This is pee wee football in this one. Coaches should be ashamed they are not teaching proper tackling.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsLxxb5HQLk

This one made local news

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sL8kxTpKJDk




Bottom line is NFL has issue but the start to fix this is YOUTH SPORTS and better coaches or better trained coaches
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Sllim Pickens


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree, and I call the current generation of young football players the hit stick generation. Madden has emphasized the big hits and kids grow up playing that and wanting to do it in real life. I agree with Detfan that it needs to start younger because a lot of kids are having issues and don't get the insurance and post retirement benefit that NFL guys get.

I think the NFL has overprotected in ways and under protected in others. Such as your example of Chancellors hit and a few other hits I have seen that are perfectly legal yet they dole out big fines. Goodell is over managing and making quick, unthought out decisions in my opinion. Things such as better technology can help.

Football is violent, and these guys get paid a lot to take these risks. I think a lot of the way they play and their long term health is their responsibility, especially given all the current research on brain injuries. It astonishes me that Javhid Best wants to keep playing. I get its what he knows but why risk it. However, it's his choice and these guys are pretty well informed.
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diehardlionfan


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's a good question.

1. Not all players growing up perceive they have options. For a large proportion of NFL athletes they saw sports as a way out of a lifestyle that had trapped their families for generations. Not everyone has a family with the finances to support post secondary education. Even fewer have the finances to attend beyond city college etc. it's always been easy for those with options to tell others they have options. Unfortunately if that were true you would never see poverty trap multiple generations because being poor isn't fun.

2. The players are ultimately accountable. They pay with their health. Youngsters play sports without the knowledge of long term impact. That falls to the parents. As children get older they have the belief shared by all youngsters and that's a sense of invincibility. Most youngsters have it as do young adults until they or some of their friends are injured or killed.

The NFL is negligent in responding to medical advancements. Most industries are governed by workers compensation and would have addressed the issue much earlier. They have finally established protocols but it isn't clear teams are following them properly.

3. Helmets have been studied privately for ten years. There have been good strides made. No one seemed to understand helmets were never designed to provide protection from concussion. They simply prevented skull fractures.
New helmet technology is shown to reduce concussion and should be mandatory.

Helmets are only one part of the issue. Pads in football and hockey are now made from high impact materials and are responsible for a great many injuries. In fact what has been sold as advancement in equipment has an overall negative impact. Pads should consist of light padding such as felt or foam and have a light covering designed to protect the structure of the pad not protection for the athlete. Players look like they're wearing armour now and feel invincible. The protection afforded the wearer of the padding endangers the opponent. Try to envision a hard projectile coming in contact with a head encased in hard plastic.

I advised my son to stop playing hockey 15 years ago due to my concerns over padding design. I have been discussing the issue with minor hockey associations and hockey Canada for years but its only been since the high profile concussion injuries that authorities are taking notice.

Another issue is education of athletes. I had a football concussion playing in high school. I was knocked out and got the smelling salts treatment. I got up went to the huddle and played the next down. The only reason I ever knew I had a concussion was my mother. That winter I suffered a concussion skiing. It was before skiers wore helmets and I caught an edge. According to my friends I did five somersaults, broke both my skis. When I stood up I fell down. I refused to be taken off the hill by the ski patrol. They took the remnants of my skis and met me at the lodge. I sat in a corner for three hours. When we left that day I couldn't drive so one of my friends drove the car. I could see the lump on my left forehead region. When I walked in the house my mother and sister took one look at me and said," don't take your coat off your going to the hospital."

The point is there isn't enough training given to athletes about concussion recognition. Just this week watching NHL hockey the cameras panned and focused on a player using smelling salts openly on the bench. What's more astonishing was the broadcasters didnt even comment.

Concussion recognition and treatment has to be introduced at the entry level of contact sports!

Another huge issue in all of this is North American culture and the morals developed by the culture. Real men are tough. They shake it off, suck it up and need to get back in there. Safety is secondary to an individuals perception of their manliness. It's all B.S. but it's a huge part of how men define themselves.

Not directly related but along the same vein is work ethic and staying home when sick. Many people with sick benefits choose to attend work sick even though they wouldn't lose pay simply because of our archaic and outdated perceptions of sick leave. Players get numbed, get pain killer injections or cortisone shots to over ride the bodies natural defence mechanisms.

As for the NFL they're late to the party and I can't help but think a number of their actions are geared to liability concerns not player health. The reluctance to mandate the best possible helmets is disturbing. It's also frustrating because they seem to be stuck on sticking with their known suppliers rather than outfitting players with the best protection available.

In short there are so many areas where sports are letting down athletes its hard to make a complete list. Part of the problem is the lack of expertise amongst league and team executives in developing these types of protocols. There needs to be a top down assesment completed and a hazard identification and risk assesment on every facet of a players job. Unfortunately these managers and executives are football guys and modern corporate practices simply aren't accepted in the football industry.
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IDOG_det


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those are good points detfan. Another problem is the lack of education given to new players. When I started playing football, I knew concussions were bad, but that's it. I didn't know what the symptoms were, and I didn't have a great clue of how they were caused. I likely have suffered one, and it wouldn't suprise me if I've had a few. I don't have any reason to believe I have, but I have no way to really know. The problem is that people new to the sport don't always know when they have a concussion, so they play through concussions they don't know about. Lucky for me when I first started playing I got no playing time originally, so if I did get a concussion then, I likely wouldn't have played through it.
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detfan782004


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IDOG_det wrote:
Those are good points detfan. Another problem is the lack of education given to new players. When I started playing football, I knew concussions were bad, but that's it. I didn't know what the symptoms were, and I didn't have a great clue of how they were caused. I likely have suffered one, and it wouldn't suprise me if I've had a few. I don't have any reason to believe I have, but I have no way to really know. The problem is that people new to the sport don't always know when they have a concussion, so they play through concussions they don't know about. Lucky for me when I first started playing I got no playing time originally, so if I did get a concussion then, I likely wouldn't have played through it.


BUt that is the problem. It would be nice for kids to know but they shouldnt have to at that age.

Coaches can tell. You can see it. It is obvious.

It pains me I did not see the RB right away as I was talking to my defense but I glanced up and could tell my his movements and actions he was not right.


Coaches can see it but depending on how key the player is they tend to ignore it.
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tylerdouglass


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deion Sanders just hit the nail on the head.

Dads need to quit teaching their kids "Dad ball." As a coach, it's infuriating to have a 1st year player with terrible habits because their father, who played 30 years ago, decided to "teach" him how to tackle.

I know there's nothing you can do about it, you can't tell dads to quit coaching their sons, but if fathers/uncles/grandpas/older brothers/big cousins would learn the fundamentals, rather than teach what they played back in the day, or what they remember watching on TV 10 years ago, our nations young football players would be a lot better off.

From meeting coaches around the state in middle-high school aged team, I can tell you that the thoughts on head injuries have in fact changed. Now coaches in this age bracket who overlook or ignore concussions are not well respected. At least in this part of the country.
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detfan782004


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tylerdouglass wrote:
Deion Sanders just hit the nail on the head.

Dads need to quit teaching their kids "Dad ball." As a coach, it's infuriating to have a 1st year player with terrible habits because their father, who played 30 years ago, decided to "teach" him how to tackle.

I know there's nothing you can do about it, you can't tell dads to quit coaching their sons, but if fathers/uncles/grandpas/older brothers/big cousins would learn the fundamentals, rather than teach what they played back in the day, or what they remember watching on TV 10 years ago, our nations young football players would be a lot better off.

From meeting coaches around the state in middle-high school aged team, I can tell you that the thoughts on head injuries have in fact changed. Now coaches in this age bracket who overlook or ignore concussions are not well respected. At least in this part of the country.


Yep. Like I said it starts at the youth level.
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tylerdouglass


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

detfan782004 wrote:
tylerdouglass wrote:
Deion Sanders just hit the nail on the head.

Dads need to quit teaching their kids "Dad ball." As a coach, it's infuriating to have a 1st year player with terrible habits because their father, who played 30 years ago, decided to "teach" him how to tackle.

I know there's nothing you can do about it, you can't tell dads to quit coaching their sons, but if fathers/uncles/grandpas/older brothers/big cousins would learn the fundamentals, rather than teach what they played back in the day, or what they remember watching on TV 10 years ago, our nations young football players would be a lot better off.

From meeting coaches around the state in middle-high school aged team, I can tell you that the thoughts on head injuries have in fact changed. Now coaches in this age bracket who overlook or ignore concussions are not well respected. At least in this part of the country.


Yep. Like I said it starts at the youth level.


From my experience, it's more on the parents of the children than the coaches. That very well may not be the case anywhere else, but it sets the coaches back when they have to break bad habits (1st year players shouldn't have ANY habits) that their parents taught them.

It's like youth coaches (that I've met) have 2 choices:

1) Spend all my time teaching fundamentals, breaking bad habits and making sure the kids are playing the game safely.

Here, you pretty much ignore the Xs and Os, and spend your time making sure the kids have a solid foundation. It's tough to win games like this unless EVERY coach you play is doing it the same way.

or

2) Spend some of my time teaching fundamentals, breaking bad habits and making sure the kids are playing the game safely, and some of my time fielding a team that will be somewhat competitive.

Here, you hope that the kids learned the fundamentals and won't go back to old habits and spend the rest of the time teaching plays and techniques. If the other coaches are coaching like this, the only way to remain competitive is to follow suite.


Fundamentals are without a doubt, the most important aspect to a football team. I'm not saying that's not the case, but when you have kids who already have learned bad fundamentals, the time you spend breaking those habits and teaching good ones takes time away from the Xs and Os of the games.

When your players don't learn the Xs and Os of the games, you have to rely on the more athletic kids on the team to make up for the lack of football smarts. This, in turn, leaves out some of the less athletic kids, even though they may know the game just as well as the kids that are out on the field.

At a higher level, pros, college, and high school even, this is fine, if you're not athletic, you're going to have to work harder. At the youth level, it shouldn't be like that, but the only way to field a team that won't get steamrolled (which is bad for everyone) is to put the athletic kids on the field more, even if they don't deserve it.
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detfan782004


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tylerdouglass wrote:
detfan782004 wrote:
tylerdouglass wrote:
Deion Sanders just hit the nail on the head.

Dads need to quit teaching their kids "Dad ball." As a coach, it's infuriating to have a 1st year player with terrible habits because their father, who played 30 years ago, decided to "teach" him how to tackle.

I know there's nothing you can do about it, you can't tell dads to quit coaching their sons, but if fathers/uncles/grandpas/older brothers/big cousins would learn the fundamentals, rather than teach what they played back in the day, or what they remember watching on TV 10 years ago, our nations young football players would be a lot better off.

From meeting coaches around the state in middle-high school aged team, I can tell you that the thoughts on head injuries have in fact changed. Now coaches in this age bracket who overlook or ignore concussions are not well respected. At least in this part of the country.


Yep. Like I said it starts at the youth level.


From my experience, it's more on the parents of the children than the coaches. That very well may not be the case anywhere else, but it sets the coaches back when they have to break bad habits (1st year players shouldn't have ANY habits) that their parents taught them.

It's like youth coaches (that I've met) have 2 choices:

1) Spend all my time teaching fundamentals, breaking bad habits and making sure the kids are playing the game safely.

or

2) Spend some of my time teaching fundamentals, breaking bad habits and making sure the kids are playing the game safely, and some of my time fielding a team that will be somewhat competitive.


Guess I got lucky with a staff of 6. Able to compete and teach.

I think media plays just as neg a role as parents
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tylerdouglass


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

detfan782004 wrote:
Guess I got lucky with a staff of 6. Able to compete and teach.

I think media plays just as neg a role as parents


Very lucky. We've got two teams (A team and B team) and two coaches.

I agree with you on the media thing, but the parent's influence could easily outweigh the media's influence if they'd put a little research and time into it.

It would be easy for a dad to hop online and search "How to make a form tackle" and teach that to his kid rather than the classic "YOU GOTTA PUT YOUR HEAD DOWN SO YOU DON'T SNAP YOUR NECK!"

I've actually heard that, I walked over to the dad and reminded him that the players have coaches already, and don't need his help. I offended him and he talked to the athletic director about it, but I don't regret it. He's going to get someone killed.
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Lions017


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tylerdouglass wrote:
detfan782004 wrote:
tylerdouglass wrote:
Deion Sanders just hit the nail on the head.

Dads need to quit teaching their kids "Dad ball." As a coach, it's infuriating to have a 1st year player with terrible habits because their father, who played 30 years ago, decided to "teach" him how to tackle.

I know there's nothing you can do about it, you can't tell dads to quit coaching their sons, but if fathers/uncles/grandpas/older brothers/big cousins would learn the fundamentals, rather than teach what they played back in the day, or what they remember watching on TV 10 years ago, our nations young football players would be a lot better off.

From meeting coaches around the state in middle-high school aged team, I can tell you that the thoughts on head injuries have in fact changed. Now coaches in this age bracket who overlook or ignore concussions are not well respected. At least in this part of the country.


Yep. Like I said it starts at the youth level.


From my experience, it's more on the parents of the children than the coaches. That very well may not be the case anywhere else, but it sets the coaches back when they have to break bad habits (1st year players shouldn't have ANY habits) that their parents taught them.

It's like youth coaches (that I've met) have 2 choices:

1) Spend all my time teaching fundamentals, breaking bad habits and making sure the kids are playing the game safely.

Here, you pretty much ignore the Xs and Os, and spend your time making sure the kids have a solid foundation. It's tough to win games like this unless EVERY coach you play is doing it the same way.

or

2) Spend some of my time teaching fundamentals, breaking bad habits and making sure the kids are playing the game safely, and some of my time fielding a team that will be somewhat competitive.

Here, you hope that the kids learned the fundamentals and won't go back to old habits and spend the rest of the time teaching plays and techniques. If the other coaches are coaching like this, the only way to remain competitive is to follow suite.


Fundamentals are without a doubt, the most important aspect to a football team. I'm not saying that's not the case, but when you have kids who already have learned bad fundamentals, the time you spend breaking those habits and teaching good ones takes time away from the Xs and Os of the games.

When your players don't learn the Xs and Os of the games, you have to rely on the more athletic kids on the team to make up for the lack of football smarts. This, in turn, leaves out some of the less athletic kids, even though they may know the game just as well as the kids that are out on the field.

At a higher level, pros, college, and high school even, this is fine, if you're not athletic, you're going to have to work harder. At the youth level, it shouldn't be like that, but the only way to field a team that won't get steamrolled (which is bad for everyone) is to put the athletic kids on the field more, even if they don't deserve it.


Quite frankly, winning doesn't matter at those lower levels. Can you really say with a straight face that it's worth sacrificing the safety of kids in order to put the team in a better position to win a meaningless game? Keep the kids safe, teach them the fundamental skills, and when they finally get to high school or whatever they'll be able to win a lot of games.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is going to be an interesting undertaking.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/sports/football/nfl-and-ge-team-up-in-effort-to-detect-concussions.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
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