February 4 - Time to take down the Christmas Tree edition... Post Super Bowl Reaction!
Well there you have it, No more Football. We have officially reached the end of the Holiday Season. That's at least my sport-centric take on things.
This Blog was intended to be posted a week ago but as anxious as you all were to read my Blog, uh cough uh, deep down I knew you could wait. Heck, we just hosted one the coolest (literally) Super Bowls in history. So much to do in the Twin Cities between downtown Minneapolis Nicollet Mall events and music, with the star studded media friendly (upgraded) Mall of Hysteria, even in downtown St. Paul with the Winter Carnival and events at the Xcel. And though I did not get a Super Bowl ticket into the Purple Palace, I was fortunate to take in a lot of all the festivities. Here's a quality statistical Super Bowl by the Numbers recap provided by Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee. Hats off to the SBLII Committee and to the thousands of volunteers and sponsors! The North was certainly Bold last week... Well done #Minnesota Proud!
So now we go! Moving on, inspired by the local spectacle, what have we learned from these past 5 months of football?
Well unless you took a year off and lived on a remote island in the South Pacific, you'd know that this has been a trying year for football. And I won't even attempt to get into the 'Take a Knee' platform used by players (and Presidents) to magnify the issues of inequality. I tend to focus on the state of health of sport, and in this case football, as a spectator, a fan and as a promoter of active sports.
Listen, I absolutely love football. I, like most sports guys, truly don't know what I would do without it. I most certainly devote my Sundays to the NFL over 5 months each year and my Monday moods have been known to be dictated by the Packer's result the day before. That said, Football, no matter how far entrenched in negativity, thanks to the media, and the unmistakable safety concerns, cannot and will not go away!! Let's better educate and correct the culture of football across the board. Here are the issues we see most prevalent and here are some ways to fix and support America's game.
Growing concern of Concussions
Whether it's pop star sensation Justin Timberlake openly responding, pre Super Bowl, to say he wouldn't let his kids play tackle football, Brett Favre in 2014 (video below) steering people from playing altogether!, or your family pediatrician preaching to the chorus, we know that there is growing concern. And that awareness and coverage is tremendous. Rules are being changed each year at every level from youth through the pros, to make football more safe, namely by attempting to minimize the amount of times kids and adults get hit in the head. We just need to be clear on what we want in sport, especially as we look over our kids, and steer them into making smart decisions.
Growing concern for Football Injuries
We know that there remain risks in EVERY sport we choose as kids and as adults. (if anyone has a new hamstring to lend out, email me :)) Ligaments tears, strains and sprains, broken bones and gashes that will keep you on your couch instead of going to Homecoming. Football certainly takes the brunt of this conversation and for good 'intensive' reason. But we love football... albeit Bigger, STRONGER, FASTER, so are the times. So let's figure it out and do football smarter!
(#BanHelmetsandPads!... There, I said it.)
"No other place where a young man is held to a higher standard"
Now I am not a football expert nor did I ever play organized football as a kid. So take all of this for what its worth.
New York Times writer, Ken Belson, added a couple articles prior to the Super Bowl that I thought provoked some sense worthy understanding of Youth Football participation. I think the most noteworthy is his piece, True Believers Circle the Wagons and Insist that the Sport is Fine.
In Belson's piece he quotes the President of the Green Bay Packers, Mark Murphy, saying, "...it is a mistake to focus solely on the risks associated with football and not to focus on the tremendous benefits."
John Harbaugh and several other top tier coaches and player's have also been more vocal of the positive influence for football. "I believe there’s practically no other place where a young man is held to a higher standard." ... "Football is hard. It’s tough. It demands discipline. It teaches obedience. It builds character", say Harbaugh.
I have a ton of close friends and acquaintances who I can guarantee would regard their High School and College football career as a tremendous reason for character and discipline in their lives and now they are successful business owners, teachers and leaders in communities across the Midwest.
Where do we go from here?!
The bottom line is we need to restore the safety and the culture around youth football and with that we restore the fun.
While concerning football safety and injury research is finding itself more and more on the front page of the paper and as State Legislators are addressing the issue by barring youth tackle football under the age of 12 years old, no one body has come up with a solid solution to keep participation in Football up and running (safe!).
The NFL, while deflecting and addressing a wide variety of other issues, is getting closer to going full steam with youth Flag Football but truly, what's the hang up?
Despite Flag Football getting the 'NOT COOL' label by its rough and tough fully padded peers, we need to fix this. Let's hope that the NFL is on it and soon so that Flag Football or Football 7's (check out www.my7on7.com in the Twin Cities) will gain greater popularity in the Midwest and across the country in the coming years.
If you think about it, there is quite a contradiction going on here. Pro and College Football has become more and more aerial over the years where Quarterbacks are the superstars and the long pass is the preferred offensive attack. So why not groom our kids by playing more technical, pass heavy play and steer further away from the thunder booming hits until kids get older? I know its not that easy but would it hurt to try to get more pass heavy, technical play from our kids?
Always open to discussion and again, if anyone is interested in joining forces with AKASPORT to develop safer solution football leagues or programs for our kids to play, just shoot me a note. In the meantime, as I always revert back to the way things used to be, have your kids round up the neighbor kids or school friends and go to a park or pick someone's backyard to play. 2 on 2 and 3 on 3 football is a ton of fun with a great deal of creativity and imagination!
Thanks for reading,
Further Football for Thought...