Is football safe for kids?

Posted 9/29/21

I recently swung by the CLCF Chiefs youth football teams for photos at Cranston Stadium. When looking back on the games that I covered, it made me take a second to consider the debate that has been going on for decades regarding the safety of playing

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Is football safe for kids?


I recently swung by the CLCF Chiefs youth football teams for photos at Cranston Stadium.

When looking back on the games that I covered, it made me take a second to consider the debate that has been going on for decades regarding the safety of playing football.

As most of us know, over the course of the past 20 or so years, player safety in football has been hotly debated from the youth level all the way to the pros. Concussions are no longer considered to be “stingers” and getting drilled in a head-on collision is no longer chalked up to “getting your bell rung” like it used to be years ago.

Football is a dangerous game at any level. I do not see an objective argument that can be made against that. I do feel that the severity is a bit blown out of proportion, though, and people tend to forget the dangers of other sports in the process.

It all begins with teaching the game the right way at the youth level. There has been a greater emphasis on that in recent years. Between teaching kids how to properly tackle by wrapping the opponent up, not leading with the head, rushing the ball using your shoulder, all of that. It is so important that kids learn not to use their head on impact.

The other is equipment being used. Helmets are now lighter than they used to be and I know that companies are constantly working on ways to create equipment that is more effective in preventing concussions. That too, is so important in a sport like football.

When watching the CLCF Chiefs, the kids appeared to be as safe as most other sports and none of them appeared to be hurting. There was nothing violent happening on the field. I believe that that is a reflection of the coaching from both sidelines, which is a great thing to see.

For those of you who read my columns, you know how much I love the game of football. It is my favorite sport. It always has been and always will be.

That is why I take this subject rather seriously when discussing it. I’m far from an expert on the medical side of head injuries and am definitely not up to date on each and every finding or report that is out there. But as a football fan that played the sport and came from a football family, I do believe that kids should be allowed to play football and that the risk is much less now than it used to be.

Of course, I do not speak for every parent out there. Everyone has their own opinion and I’ll always respect how others decide to raise their kids. I just believe that for those parents who are iffy, I would not hesitate to sign your child up to play football if they express interest.

Think about some other sports.

Hockey, kids are flying around on sharp ice skates, on a hard surface, hitting each other and slapping around a hard piece of rubber that is shot and deflected every which way.

Baseball, kids are standing at the plate with someone throwing a hard baseball as hard as they can in their direction, and will try hitting the ball as hard as they can right back at the pitcher.

Lacrosse, another sport with contact and a hard, heavy ball being thrown around at high speeds.

I can keep going on, but you get my point.

Now, am I saying that football is one of the safer sports to play? No, it is a dangerous, full-contact sport and anytime a player steps on the field, they are risking injury. My point, rather, is that there is a risk in most sports and that football has recognized many of the dangers that were once overlooked and are now trying to address them.

Football is an unbelievable game and I would always support kids trying it out. When watching the Chiefs at work, it is clear that they are being taught the right way and that their bodies are a whole lot safer now than they used to be.

I have not spoken on the Red Sox in a while, other than briefly mentioning their COVID outbreak in last week’s column. The team has been in a red-hot wild card race with a few other teams in September, and it has pulled me back into it.

I have been on record numerous times saying how bad I believe the Major League Baseball product is nowadays.

It is slow-moving, uncompelling, stat-driven, and just totally unbearable for me to watch at this point. I will say, though, the past few weeks have shown me how much I miss seeing the team playing meaningful games in the fall and how much fun it can be.

Sure, the Sox won the World Series not too long ago and it is not like the team has had this big playoff drought. I have just become so tired of the product and so disenchanted that even the past couple of runs, I have only had half of my heart in it.

Maybe it is just the time away, maybe my soul is no longer allowing me to be bitter to the point that I ignore my hometown team. I don’t know what it is, but I have been engaged the past few weeks and it has been … almost … fun to watch for me. About as good as it has been in a decade.

Welcome back, fall baseball. Welcome back.


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