Katherine Price Snedaker of sportscapp.com had a recent opportunity to meet the powers that be of the NFL, including the Commissioner himself, Roger Goodell. Katherine wrote a blog post recently about the event;
Big name people. I was ready for a first-class PR presentation about how great youth football is and they don’t really need to change… and that is not what I found.
Instead there was heartfelt sincerity by everyone in the room – almost all parents including Dad Goodell and Dad Hallenbeck of youth-sports-playing kids. And for almost two hours, we talked as just parents… Titles fall away when you share about your children and your fears & hopes for them.
No one has a golden ticket to protect his/her child against a concussion. Despite his paycheck, Goodell cannot buy a better helmet for his child than I can. Despite his sports connections, Hallenbeck cannot protect his kids better than I can my own from a concussion. We are all vulnerable when it comes to our children and head injuries. Sadly with concussions, there is truly a level playing field – everyone’s children are potentially at risk on playing fields, playgrounds, gyms, backyards, pools and streets. There is no perfect sport to avoid injury, and there are even concussions in golf and crew (I know of these personally). And beyond sports, there are concussions in biking, running, horseplay, sledding, climbing trees, backyard fun, etc. We know that the answer is not found in bubble wrapping our kids. There is too much fun and excitement and yummy stuff to be found in the world and especially in sports, so off our children go to the playing fields, the basketball courts, and the baseball diamond.
I truly believe that Mr. Goodell and others are trying to figure out a way, and they are some very smart people, so really it seems it will be a matter of time. The problem is reform and changing of a game. Honestly that is not the core problem, rather it is the culture of the game and the design of the game.
The culture is rather simple, as the warrior mentality prevents a lot of players from acknowledging the brain injury of concussion, or it could be the “old school” of hit, hit, hit and hit some more in practices. Perhaps the lack of respect a brain injury gets, opposed to a measly knee ligament.
The design of the game is where the problem of the injury is revealed. This sport was created with much inferior athletes; I thing George Will stated that in 1980 only three players were over 300 pounds. Last yer there were three players over 350 pounds and 52 players over 300 pounds. The athlete (the independent variable) of football has morphed into a missile on feet, a shit-brickhouse that can run, or the rhinos and hippos of the sporting world. The game invented in the 1800’s was and had in mind athletes probably the size of current high school players. Evolution of the player has far outpaced the games evolution; this is true for just about every sport that has concussion issues.
Change will be necessary to save this and other sports, but really those changes should be embraced and easily accepted if you look at the evolution of the athlete.