There has been a continuous stream of concussion information in the media the past few years, even days, bringing to light an issue that has plagued the athletic world for a long time. A lot of us saw the Pittsburg game this weekend, resulting in a traumatizing concussion to the quarterback. Football seems to have bore the brunt of this attention, but let’s not forget that ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, field hockey, wrestling, and basketball also top out the list of sports with high rates of concussion. So is it really concussions that parents fear about their kids playing football? Or is it truly something else?
According to PT In Motion News, football ranks third in reported concussions; ice hockey and men’s wrestling top the list. In addition, women’s sports rank higher than men’s in reported concussion. Now, that statistic can be skewed as women are more likely to report concussion symptoms than men (most likely due to the lingering stereotype that concussions are serious), as well as women’s brains are structured a little different than men’s, making them more susceptible to concussions. With all of the information and exposure out there about concussions, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would not be mindful of it without stereotype or recourse. The advancement in equipment is continuous, the regulations on the field are incredibly protective compared to ten years ago, and the education for referees, parents, and coaches is more in depth than it has been in years.
So what is it about football that makes other parents look at me with disgust when I say that my son is playing youth football? Perhaps it is the aggression and brute contact that the sports requires. Or perhaps it’s that when professional football is on TV, there is little chance for conversation, choice of another channel, or control over your significant other? I’m not sure what it is about youth football, where the rules and equipment are plentiful, but soccer moms still give me the disgusted look or gasp when I tell them that my son plays youth football. They don’t want to hear that he loves the game, and not just because of media attention. I have made it a point to show him equal amounts of soccer, ice hockey, track and field, baseball, and nascar (oh yes … even nascar), but he likes football at this point. Other moms don’t want to hear that at his level there is little contact. In fact, at this age, there is more contact in soccer and hockey than at youth football. I am not saying that there are teams in which we have played that are more aggressive and loose with the rules than we are, but all in all, there is little contact.
My son is learning a bunch of things this fall that I cannot be prouder of. He is learning commitment to a team, no matter how tough the competition seems (and some of it has been darn intimidating!) He is learning that academics come first; we don’t go to practice until homework is done (not that there is a lot in 1st grade). He is learning to get along and work with different personalities on the field, even if there are kids that he would normally not hang around with. He is learning to earn the position he wants to play. He is learning that his level of play is just the beginning and that the players in levels above him have lessons/information to pass along. And finally, he is learning that he, and his teammates, have fans, especially his parents, who will travel all over upstate NY to support him and his team, and that we will drop whatever we are doing to watch him grow as a Red Dog football player.
So, moms out there, tell me what is it about youth football that makes some dislike it so much? I’m serious! Comment below!