Fellow Blogger/Activist Gets To Meet With Goodell, et al.

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.

6 thoughts on “Fellow Blogger/Activist Gets To Meet With Goodell, et al.

  1. Matt Chaney August 24, 2012 / 11:04

    Change? Optimism for fundamental shift in football brutality? Right. What a joke. This woman was in fact PR-ed, snookered, bamboozled, and by some of the lamest in such trade, American football yaks, beginning with Dollar Roger Goodell.

    • Sports CAPP (@SportsCAPP) August 26, 2012 / 11:46

      The NFL and I were talking about youth football – pre-high school – NOT PRO.

      Don’t worry about me. I grew up with a step-father who worked in NYC advertising and I was a PR-Adv Major. I get it. The NFL has a concussion problem so on a different scale so does cheerleading, girls soccer, BMX biking, and so does teen drinking – But guess who offered to get a bunch of bloggers together and talk about it with top experts. Not the liquor companies? I can hardly get a call back from local soccer leagues.

      I have volunteered my time for four years doing concussion education that NO one has really cared about until it was their kid who got hurt. Yeah, not too smart to work without pay, you got me there. But there is no one paying for concussion educators to spread needed info. No drugs companies, no large hospital chains, no one. There is a line in the sand – on one side are the people who think concussions won’t happen to their kids – on the other are those who guessed wrong.

      When The NFL asked ME to come to them, I agreed and was given access to people, programs, and executives’ time to share what I thought about my experience with educating parents and kids and coaches. From Roger to Scott to Paul – I met and talked executives whose young kids now play sports. These dads want safer play and they are committed to spend money and time to change youth football and all youth sports. Someone has to lead the way, ANYONE? ANYONE? US Lacrosse has taken great steps for their players and program but we need more help as the scale of kids in youth sports is huge.

      Last Friday night, I spoke with my youth speaker, Chris Coyne, to over 500 inner city kids and their families who came out of their depressed, high crime city to the local stadium for a awesome football pep rally (kids, babies, grandparents, and parents). They were such a great crowd and really listened to what we had to say. When I handed out CDC flyers after the event, almost every person thanked us for coming to share info with them.

      Did I get paid? No. There is not money in this league for this kind of education. It cost me 6 hours away from my own kids, gas there and back in Friday night I-95 traffic, and I had to spend $100 of my own money to rent a sound system. Worth it? Yes. Do I need help? Yes. I need money to expand. Does what I do matter? Yes, because three kids have already had concussions there, and I hope they will now get appropriate medical care faster knowing what I taught. My real dream is that every team could have an AT on the field, but don’t get me started on that.

      I didn’t grow up with football, my kids didn’t play – football is not part of my world – we were a lax family until my son had 7 concussion (only one lax). But what I saw in the stands of that city stadium were loving, devoted caring families who got out of work on a hot Friday night to gather around something they love. It provided their children with great coaches (role models) and an alternative to hanging out in the streets.

      So say we ban football as evil and bad for kids – I do not think these kids are going to be playing tennis or sailing or going to sleep away camp. But if I can volunteer my time to make this youth sport experience (which is already pretty entrenched in the USA) as safe as possible for those kids, I am going to go. I also have volunteered my time for the last four years to talk to the inner city lacrosse team and they ran over and called me “the concussion lady.”

      But what if someone will help – NFL, an auto part company – I don’t care as long as I believe they are sincere about YOUTH sports. I met fathers at the NFL and looked in their eyes – they are sincere about this. Are the pros someone else’s child? Yes, they deserve their say in court, but back to the kids but we have to start somewhere. The CDC started producing concussion flyers in 1996 – the year before my son was born. They are not making it from the warehouse to your house. I am trying to be a distribution system for a people who don’t know they need this info. It’s a hard sell in a poor economy to ask people to pay for something they don’t think they need.

      I don’t judge what people decide to do with their lives – My children do not ride bikes on public roads as it has been my experience that I have lost friends’ lives and various body parts to being hit on bikes by cars. Biking is terrible in my personal experience, but other people seem to love it and ride all over the place with their kids in tow. America is a beautiful place because we can make choices.

      We all take risks. What kills me is seeing kids hurt in the concussion clinic every week – in football season and outside football season. The NFL and USA Football showed me that they are sincere about youth football and that is better than the sports who do nothing. Kids get concussions in life. Maybe football is taking the first step that will change the game. I want to be part of the solution and it beats being alone.

  2. Football, by its nature, is an agressively played contact / collison sport.

    Comparing football to driving an auto, skateboarding, running, golf, crew, sledding and so on involves a SIGNIFICANT ILLOGICAL COMPARISON.

    The primary purpose of driving an auto, skate boarding, running, crew, golf and so on is NOT to delibertely crash into another auto, skateboarder, boat, sled and so on !

    Perhaps there is a more ‘global’ sport injury issue emerging that has been underaddressed and not mentioned in the above post?

    The global issue follows: That the SPORT CULTURE in the U.S. often idealizes sport participation & therefore uncritically accepts various types of sport injuries as part of the game…whether the injury be a sprained ankle, broken leg or a damaged brain….and ignores all the inherent risks of particpation.

  3. Robert A. Arnone, D.C. August 25, 2012 / 05:37

    Nice article about a most serious subject, the health and well-being of our children. Yes, there is a risk that we take as parents of Football players but it is not as black and white as everyone thinks.

    From the article:

    “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 not a level playing field, everyone is not at the same risk, and there is more that can be done for our children, I am doing it for my children and for other athletes and it does not involve changing the sport either.

    I have been saying this for years but no one wants to acknowkedge it for whatever reason?

    • Sports CAPP (@SportsCAPP) August 27, 2012 / 20:18

      Robert, I want to hear more about your thoughts on “not a level” playing field… Are you referring to the vulnerabilty of younger brains? or comparing sports? or comparing sports with concussion-aware trained coaches or old school coaches?

      I learn so much when a reader expresses a thought that differs from my own.


      • Robert A. Arnone, D.C. August 27, 2012 / 21:06

        Miss Katherine,
        Thanks for your response to my response.
        If you would like to speak on the phone, I would be more than happy to talk with you my number is 314-995-5719.
        I have found over hundreds of patients who have had at least one concussion a phenomenon that is present 100% of the time.
        It is good to expose, analyze and correct this after a concussion, but even better to do beforehand to reduce the chances if ever getting one in the first place. This is better than a helmet or hitting with your head up.
        So far, every single patient that has followed my recommendations has not had a first concussion or a second one since being under my specific care.
        I would love to explain this to you further but my point is that there is more that can be done to better assure the safety of our children while participating in contact sports. I know about this firsthand as I was an athlete that has had a concussion on more than one occasion and have 4 children that play sports too.

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