It has been over a week now since I wrote the high school sanctioning body in Illinois about making a change to limit contact in high school football. This was not done to promote myself, nor was it to hammer a sport many – including me – love. It was an attempt to get out in front of the issue and make proactive changes to protect not only the players but the game of football. It is a genuine good intention on my part.
Since the letter went out via email and on this blog I have had many responses from many different people and places. There have been questions and comments about what was written and in this post I will address as many as possible.
Let us begin with the deafening silence on the issue. As in only one email in response (24 sent out) from the IHSA and its board of directors. That response was as follows; “Thanks, Dustin”. Yup that is it. Not that I was expecting an invitation to HQ to break this down but maybe some questions or comments or stonewalling, nope – nothing.
Cost became a hot topic on this proposal. Yes, I concede that hiring an athletic trainer will cost you some money, but seriously would you send you kid to a swimming pool without a life guard? It is the same thing as sudden death, catastrophic injury or concussion in a swimming pool, they can happen at any time. As for the other parts of the proposal cost would not be an issue at all.
In fact you could make more money with the proposals; how you ask? Simple, by putting a lower-level game on before the varsity contest on a Friday night you would drive up attendance for that game. In our example we use freshman games to be played prior to the varsity games; not only can you save on bus travel but having more people in the stands equates to more gate and more concessions for that contest.
I was asked for order of preference if given the opportunity, along with that I was given the scenario of all the money in the world and limited resources. Here were my answers (as the pertain to the three proposals);
All the Money
- Athletic Trainers
- 24 hour hit rule
- Only 2 days of contact per week
- 24 hour hit rule
- Outsourced Athletic Trainers
- 2 days of contact/week
Listen it is simple folks, limiting exposure will reduce the times the individual is put in harm’s way for a potential injury, concussion or otherwise.
I was asked about implementing this on short notice as states, teams, leagues already have officials and schedules in place many years in advance. That one is elementary, SO WHAT. It is going to take effort on everyone’s part to make it happen. It will be like either ripping a band-aid off or pulling it off slowly, it is still going to hurt.
My favorite question was this; “in a perfect world how would you change the sport of football?” Well in a perfect world there wouldn’t be this blog and there wouldn’t be a need for such proactive proposals. In a perfect world and the world we are currently in I don’t want to change the game. I want to make it safer by:
- Having Athletic Trainers at every full contact aspect of football every level
- Limiting contact exposure
- Calling and enforcing the rules currently on the book
- Having everyone understand that concussions are a brain injury and will require recovery that will be longer than one week for most.
That is quick and dirty. You can add you questions and comments below.