Unsafe at Any Age

By Johnny Ginter on June 4, 2012 at 1:00p
70 Comments
All is well!

If I have to hear P.O.D's "Boom" even one more time on another stupid football highlight video I am literally going to go insane. The American Christian rock quartet's homage to being douchebags who are also kind of from the south (they're actually from San Diego, which is kind of like finding out Justin Bieber is actually from a particularly bad part of Tijuana) was released in 2002, and quickly became the song of choice for anyone looking to insist via the internet that they meant serious business.

Seeing how the song itself is, ironically, an affront to God, it's perfect that it has been used as the theme music for countless football-related head traumas on Youtube. "Boom" is the exact kind of song that you want to hear when you don't want to have to think about the very real physical toll that is being inflicted on the person at the receiving end of what almost always is an illegal hit.

But hey! Not if they're kids, right? After all, as is a common meme, kids can't give each other concussions! That's ridiculous! After all, their small bodies simply can't generate enough force to cause a concussion or other brain injuries. It's scientific fact that a 6 foot 2, 215 pound safety in high school is more honor bound to the laws of gravity and inertia than a 6 foot 2, 215 pound safety in the NFL, so therefore...

Oh. Oh God.

However, professional athletes are not the only group affected by concussions. Young people are also at risk because of immature brains and a lack of specialized equipment at the school level. ... In 2008, an estimated 44,000 emergency room visits were related to concussion from sports, and 58 percent of those cases were in high school-aged children.

Okay, so 25 thousand concussions (that are actually reported and treated) sounds like a lot. But whatever, you know? Kids are resilient, and I'm sure that they recover faster than their adult counterparts, and are able to get back on the field even faster than big ol babies like Troy Aikman.

Recent studies have shown that adolescents take longer to recover from concussions compared to adults. In fact, some cases can take up to 40 days from the actual incident. In many cases — about 41 percent — adolescent athletes might return to their sport too early, which can make them susceptible to something called Second Impact Syndrome, which is avoidable but could result in death if not managed.

My point is here is that through a culture of short clips of "hits" and "knocks" and "booms," we're essentially fostering a sports culture where we say it's okay if kids do something stupid because it looks cool. As brutal of a sport as football is, and as conflicted as I can be sometimes about my support for college football and the NFL because of that, players at those levels generally understand the risks and are given appropriate training to mitigate those risks. In other words, players still get horrifically injured, but we don't have to feel quite as guilty about it.

For me, that simply doesn't extend to Pop Warner and high school football.

I got away from doing a feature about random OSU related videos from the internet I called "Ye Olde Youtube Fridays" (or Tuesdays, or Wednesdays, or whenever), mostly because it was a pretty lazy way to crank out a low effort article. But today I have another series of videos, and I want you to watch them and then try and tell me that kids, even kids as young as 5 or 6, can't inflict major head trauma on each other and that some coaches, fans, and even parents aren't encouraging it.

 

There are, of course, dozens of more examples to be found on Youtube, just search for "Pop Warner hit" and you'll have hours of fun watching children concuss each other.

The real issue is this: as Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL attempts to confront the concussion and CTE issue, steps may or may not be taken to make the sport safer on that level. It's possible that some of those changes may spill over into the college game, but for now there's still a prevailing opinion that head injuries are a problem because of how the game is played at a professional level, not with the sport itself. It's a problem even Goodell recognizes.

However, in one sense it may be true. Football can be played relatively safely, at least as safely as a contact sport can be played. But the problem is that, from a very young age, kids are taught that football isn't football if you don't play to hurt. Proper tackling, not blindsiding other players, not headhunting, and so on are signs of weakness. A big hit, knocking the other player out, and putting the subsequent video on Youtube (accompanied by some idiots from San Diego yelling about their dope trip to Tokyo) is macho and tough.

People who want to defend this will tell you that it isn't a problem, that if you changed football by making blindside hits illegal or by suspending players who lead with their helmets that you'd ruin the game, that we aren't causing harm to children and adolescents by encouraging stupidity.

The statistics disagree.

70 Comments

Comments

ShadyBuckeye's picture

This concusision thing is completely overblown by the media... not even worth discussing. You know whats not overblown by the media? LeBron James dissapearing in crunch time. His new tactic: Since I cant produce in late game situations I'll just foul out of the game altogether. Brilliant.

rdubs's picture

I think you can thank some shady referring for that one.

buckeyechad's picture

Was this post supposed to be a joke? Dismiss the entire article with a completely idiotic statement, then change the subject to something entirely unrelated. All in the very first comment. 

ShadyBuckeye's picture

Im just sick of hearing about it thats all. I just feel like the entire country is being taken over by the poitically correct police. you cant say anything without offending some group of people. Im not gunna get into topics like gay marriage but now it seems like theyre trying to take football away because its violent and we shouldnt teach such a barbarian sport like that to our kids. reminds me of parents who have "gender neutral" children. its ridiculous. everyone knows how football is played, those videos of the kids are sick, the coaches are sick, they shouldnt be lining up kids in hitting drills like that, some of those kids probly didnt even wanna be there, parents forced them to play. anyways yes my comment was ignorant but u cant tell me the media doesnt overblow EVERYTHING

Johnny Ginter's picture

this comment is amazing

hodge's picture

My brain just supernova'd.

BrewstersMillions's picture

Johnny and Hodge couldn't do it and I fear I might not be able to do it to, but I will try to address the person who has clearly missed the point of this article.
Shady
Football isn't going to be litigated (that means people will make laws) away. I don't know if anyone has come up with ideas or ways to change the game, short of taking the helmets off (those are the things the guys wear on their heads). That in itself is a very drastic change because the NFL specifically will not ever give up its number one marketting tool. People are simply saying the game is far more dangerous than we ever knew-which is saying something because we all know how dangerous it is. The actual Science (that the stuff smart people use to prove theories-which are things people think about a given occurence) is showing the long term effects football has on the human brain (thats the thing that tells the rest of your body what to do). People need to know what football can actually do to you. We all watch the red pavement videos when we are taking our driving tests-its the ugly side of what we perceive to be dangerous. Much the same way, people at a young age need to be made aware of how football can impact you. Now I won't sit my son down and give him the basics of CTE or other brain issues but I will let him know what can happen. It isn't just high level kids at risk. Anyone who hits their head is at risk. Your average kid will play from what, 5th grade to senior year of high school football? That is 9 seasons, give or take late bloomers. On average, a kid hits his head subconcussivley (that means without enough force to cause an actual concussion) about 5000 times per season between games, practices, etc. Stretch that out over the life of your average kid and that person is banging his head against something 45,000 times. None of those hits need to be concussive level impacts to cause damage. The constant banging of the head is what is causing the real problems-and that is where education needs to step in. Coaches and parents have to let their kids know whats what and not just say "Well footballs tough, I'll put my kid out there and live vicariously". Concussions are bad. Anyone who's had one can tell you. I was diagnosed with 3 in a 9 year period and I never played a snap after high school football. I'm terrified of the long term risks my brain is exposed to. There are plenty of guys who have concussions and suffer long term problems as a result. Chris Henry was diagnosed with CTE after he died-he was also never diagnosed with a concussion. It isn't the big hits that are the problem-they certainly don't help....but it is the constant banging of ones head that can not really be avoided that is the bigger risk.
Nothing about this is overblown. You are a fool to think otherwise.

4-6 seconds from point A to point B and when you get to point B, be pissed off

Maestro's picture

Well said

vacuuming sucks

Buckeyes_Terrapins's picture

that's not what litigated means

BrewstersMillions's picture

Derp. Should have been legislated. Nice spot.

4-6 seconds from point A to point B and when you get to point B, be pissed off

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

I'm curious what the difference is in concussion rate between football and rugby.  Both have hard hits, but one is with pads and the other is not.  I also wonder if playing without a helmet would instictively improve tackling technique.

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!

Wilson's picture

I play collegiate rugby and yes the hits are hard but with no forward passing and no blocking there are much fewer blindside hits. also the ref will penalize tackles that don't wrap up the ball carrier and because there are no pads/helmets the tackler is much more inclined to protect himself and tackle properly i.e at the waist and hips. In rugby the ball carrier can get up and continue play if not wrapped up this also encourages safe good form. This is not to say that concussions do not occur but the sport itself does not promote the vicious head to head or lowering of the shoulder hits of football. It all comes down the culture of the sport and what we promote as being good sportsmanship. 

Wiper

Steve Earle Bruce Springsteen's picture

also this

 
 

The North remembers.

buckeye76BHop's picture

You make absolutely no sense Shady!  And LeBron's going to win a NBA championship Thursday night...case closed on your dumbass points.  Media doesn't spin anything on concussions...Dr's of Neurology are starting to put two and two together and are concluding that former NFL players (JR Seau and countless others) are dying from brain damage.  So is "MEDIA" spinning that too so DR's report their findings....You're a FUCKING MORON man!

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."
"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."
Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

builderofcoalitions's picture

That second video makes me a little sick. That's tough for any parent to watch.

Because we couldn't go for three.

Pam's picture

Which is why I didn't.

Riggins's picture

Concussions are the biggest threat to football's popularity.  Don't listen to meatheads who say otherwise.

BrewstersMillions's picture

Shady, you get my nod for most asinine comment of the year. Over blown by the media? Not even close. This is an epidemic that affects kids of all ages. People still ignore the real issue-the subconcussive hits, but concussions are a big deal. We understand the brain better than we ever have before. We understand contact sports' effect on the brain now more than ever too. Football is a dangerous sport, nothing will change that, but the science is there-this game (whether you have a concussion or not) will mess your brain up. Nothing about that is overblown and here you use this as a chance to say some off base comment about LeBron, furthering the notion that no one does "Jilted Lover" better than Ohioans.

4-6 seconds from point A to point B and when you get to point B, be pissed off

ShadyBuckeye's picture

In order to be a "Jilted Lover" doesnt that require that u actually liked the person in the first place????

BrewstersMillions's picture

Sure. And I assume you didn't? Or say you didn't but know full well you were all witnesses when he was in Cleveland.

4-6 seconds from point A to point B and when you get to point B, be pissed off

Oakland Buckeye's picture

100% agree Brew - As a parent of a HS player it gives me cause to contemplate his well being - I would probably have to concuss him to have him quit though...
Great article Johnny - sorry it was immediately dismissed by idiocy. Perhaps as the James Harrison's of the NFL are neutered properly - it will trickle down to a cleaner level of play & the dirty hit become upsortsmanlike thru all levels of play. It is cear by these videos that change is immportant -

SaintTressel's picture

Hey Brewster, I've noticed you talking about this subject a few times. Most everything I've read on the subject so far has been (paraphrase) "this dude played football and shot himself and when we studied his brain he had CTE". This is evidence that we need to study the problem more. It is also a long way from "settled' science. Do you have any links or recommendations on good studies/articles?
You may have listened already, but if not check out this Slate podcast around 24:20. It has some interesting ideas.

BrewstersMillions's picture

Saint,
Here are a few.
http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/your-brain-multiple-concussions
http://www.gq.com/sports/profiles/200909/nfl-players-brain-dementia-study-memory-concussions
The second one focusses on Bennet Omalu who is sort of at the forefront of this (and caught a ton of heat from NFL doctors) a third article about him for you.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/24/AR200704...
 
I would expect more surrounding the deaths of Dave Duerson, Junior Seau, Wade Belak and Derek Boogard (NHL enforcers) coming but because this is such a new venture, it may take some time. 

4-6 seconds from point A to point B and when you get to point B, be pissed off

Iwearmocs's picture

I'm as hypocritical as any other football fan about big hits, but some of those pop warner video's are terrifying. I never really thought about little kids getting hurt, good article.

NW Buckeye's picture

Johnny - Nice work.  The clips you show are great examples of why this "concussion thing" is not overblown.  All the hits except one in those clips show players leading with their helmets to initiate contact.  By rule, this is not allowed.  Yet, you do not see any of the pee wee coaches instructing the correct technique, nor do you see any penalty flags thrown.  The mentality of "just let them play" and "it's all just part of the game" is what will eventually ruin football at all levels for all of us.  Fans can hide their head in the sand and pretend that it is not a real problem, but if the trend continues there will be many public schools dropping the sport all together.  The "risk management" lawyers will take over and public school football will go the way of the dinosaur.  Real change is necessary to save the game as we know it. 
You may think I am being an alarmist here, but I know how those folks work from my 25 plus years coaching HS sports.  In that time we changed from a basic trusting society to one where eliminating risk trumps common sense.  Examples of this are:  no longer can my HS do pot luck dinners - the risk of food borne bacteria in food prepared at home put a ban on that.  For many years I did a BBQ at my home for the seniors on our team - our HC had them over to his house for popcorn and sodas to watch MNF.  Both had to go by the wayside because of risk management.  When I first started coaching I could give kids in my neighborhood a ride to/from practiceor games - risk management did away with that - the kids had to be transported by someone not affiliated with the school - could not even sit in my car.  This meant that I would have to wait for a student's ride to show up after a late night road game (usually JV) with them standing out in the cold - sometimes this took hours of waiting.  (Students were not allowed to wait in the building - another risk management decision). 
I bring this up because it was statistics that drove risk management to all these decisions.  Statistics that did not even come close to the "concussion thing" epidemic that we are now facing.  If we do not make changes on the field and in practice there will be changes that force even the most cynical of us to stand up and take notice.  Once football loses ground in HS athletics it is only a short time before college football will suffer as well. 

southbymidwest's picture

OSU daughter got a concussion playing lacrosse in high school- it took her a full month and a half before she had it all together again, and was cleared by the trainers to play. She was not a happy camper. She could not retain what she had read two minutes before, could not do simple math, couldn't tell you which day of the week it was...scary stuff. And she did not lose consciousness. Not to mention how it affected some of her grades with teachers who didn't understand the effects of concussions on teenage brains/and/or didn't give a crap.
What they are now worried about most is secondary concussions-when a player returns to the playing field before recovery from the original concussion is complete-it is much easier to get a second concussion, and, the consequences of the second concussion, no matter the "smallness" of it can turn into permanent brain damage that may not show up until later in life. Yikes.
Our county now has a concussion test that it adminsiters to athletes with concussions, but, unfortunately, if you wnat to play and are dumb enough to do so, you can cheat the test to get back out on the field. But it is better than nothing, and at least coaches don't rip the athlete a new one for "not being tough enough/not having the right attitude".
I just wonder how many concussions are under reported by the football athletes themselves because they don't understand, or are willing to take risks to get back in the game.

Pam's picture

I fell at work a few years ago and landed head first (long story) I had an MRI at the emergencey room to see if I had a concussion (I got knocked out for a second).  I asked the neurologist is he could tell if it was mild or severe.  He told me "there is no such thing as a mild concussion"

buckeyechad's picture

I am a Steelers fan and went to highschool near Pittsburgh, and as I'm sure you all know they are almost the poster boys of big/dirty hits in the NFL. While I love the team, the fans tend to side with the Steelers players and I hear extremely ignorant things all the time. "It's football, they need to man up" "The NFL is a bunch of p****ys nowadays". And if you look at the overwhelming statistics it's obvious that that sort of thinking comes from downright ignorance and nothing else.

Ethos's picture

Great Article!  Shady going for the dumb ass post of the year I see.  
The more articles and news on this problem the better it will get for people. I'm not talking about just football either.  I've had plenty of friends go down with concussions in soccer and baseball.  I'm also not talking about changing rules (though leading with helmet is obviously something that had to go away) i'm talking about changing technology.  They have the ability to make helmets that can reduce the effects, they (and by they I mean the helmet companies) just don't bother researching it and coming up with a solution because there is no push to do so.  I'm also talking about coaching methods.  Shoot videos like the ones above, and if it doesn't find the coach telling the kids that its wrong, suspend him without pay for the next week and increase that punishment with each wrong doing.  Suddenly you'll start seeing coaches teaching their kids the proper methods.
NW is right, if somebody doesn't act soon, the lawyers are going to take over, and you can kiss football goodbye.  That's why I am excited when I heard about the players suing the helmet companies.  Hit em where it hurts, their wallets, and the problem gets solved.  Just like fining in the NFL.  

"What do you need water for, Sunshine?!" - Coach Coombs, if you don't love this man, you have no soul.

YTOWNBUCKI's picture

This is the problem with America in my honest opinion.  Are concussions a very serious issue?  Absolutely.  But why is everyone out for justice?  People need to understand that they (or their parents) made the choice to play football.  Football is and always will be an extremely violent sport.  Concussions are almost ineivitable.  But instead of accepting that and realizing that you've made the decision to play a violent sport, we blame everyone else.  Do I enjoy seeing 10 year oild kids get jacked up?  NO WAY!  But this is what football is.  It's constant collisions and violence.  I agree that coaches definitely need to step it up in the ways of proper technique.  I think too many of them were "has beens" or maybe never even played the game.  Those are the kinds of guys that just want to see big hits, so that's what they teach.  Fundamental football will fix this, and so will personal accountability.  NFL players choose to play a game for millions of dollars a year, if they want to whine about concussions, they should quit.  We all love the big hits, but I'd rather see a guy wrap up properly and drive a ball carrier 5 yards backwards than to see him hit a guy with his helmet.  By making all of these rules and regulations, we're not addressing the real issue here.  Coaching.  Period.

rdubs's picture

You're going to take the position that the problem with America is that people want justice?  Interesting idea, but I don't think very many Americans will back you up on that one considering it is one of our founding principles.

YTOWNBUCKI's picture

My point is that while justice is fine, no one wants to be accountable for their own decisions and actions and they seek justice from the wrong people/entities.  Which is, by the way, is the major reason why America in general is a mess right now.  Not because of football, but the attitudes of people everywhere are bringing it down.

tennbuckeye19's picture

Kudos for this write up. But I'm not sure why you gotta hate on P.O.D. You might dislike the music, but they're actually really good guys.

Johnny Ginter's picture

in the off chance that i get to meet them i will happily eat crow as far as their good guyness goes, but their music completely blows and i will make no apologies for that. NONE! GOOD DAY SIR.

tennbuckeye19's picture

I do not necessarily vouch for their music, just their good guy-ness. 

bassplayer7770's picture

Okay then.  I know way too many terrible musicians who happen to be good guys.  Of course, it's sadly hilarious when terrible musicians are arrogant thinking they're something special, so maybe there is something to say for "good guy-ness."

tennbuckeye19's picture

I'm not saying they are terrible musicians, just that their type of music is not my cup of tea. In their defense though, through my dealings with them, they are humble guys who were as surprised as anyone at their success. 

Northbrook's picture

During the Tressel years Dave kept kicking me in the head.

Bucksfan's picture

I have a concussion the size of a walrus.

bassplayer7770's picture

I pray for no long-term effects.  It would be a shame to be confused while watching actual football this Fall.

rdubs's picture

I think the distinction here is that putting you to sleep is different than concussing you.

pcon258's picture

I think the problem isnt just concussions, its a cultural thing. Unfortunately, I never played football (my mom didn't want me getting hit, although there was almost a war over it), but from talking to my friends who both played through high school, and one who will be attempting to walk-on at ous, they take pride in toughness. one of them was a qb, and he admitted to me that he has blacked out and not remembered entire quarters because of a hard hit to the head. Unfortunately, theres no real way to change this, no matter how much we try to change the rules. I'm not saying that playing the macho guy is a bad thing, because toughness is a good life lesson, but in the case of concussions, we need to seriously reconsider our values as a society. 

hodge's picture

Bravo, Johnny.  You've just illustrated the primary conflict between countless political debates in this world: how do you change something's culture for the better without simoutaneously destroying its identity?  This unending struggle could be extrapolated across a vast expanse of hot-button political issues today.  I'm not saying this to advocate certain positions, or to stand oon a soapbox; but I do find the crossroads 'twixt sports and politics fascinating.  
I mean, look at the current state-of-affairs regarding the playoff:  we have countless interests, all vying for different outcomes, lobbying relentlessly for their fruition.  Yet they all try to best change college football's postseason culture without diluting the identity of the game; the finest regular season in sports.

RBuck's picture

Looked to me that most of those hits in the videos were not helmet to helmet...but a lot of snap backs and head landings on the turf. Not a whole lot you can do about that.

"It's just another case of there you are". ~ Doc (1918-2012)

Johnny Ginter's picture

seriously? two little kids almost break their necks in the second video because it's helmet to helmet, and in all of the others there's a kid leading with their helmet to either take on a defender or make a tackle.

Riggins's picture

I think your mask has slipped down over your eyes there, Lone Ranger.  Look again.

NW Buckeye's picture

Helmet to helmet contact is one thing, however in all but 1 of those hits, the hitter initiated contact with the crown of his helmet.  This is clearly against the rules - see spearing in the rule books.  The immediate damage of such hits is usually done to the hittee, from writhing in pain (like some of the kids in the videos) to broken bones or worse.  The immediate effect on the hitter is usually some form of exhilaration often followed by seeing stars or worse.  The long term effect of many of those hits is the hitter absorbs so much shock through multiple contacts like that, and he gets the kinds of injuries we are all so concerned about.  Occasionally, the hitter actually is the one who gets the instantaneous injury - a broken neck or spine or perhaps just being completely knocked out. 
The laissez faire attitude of these hits being ok because they were not helmet to helmet and/or because "football is a tough game" will only succeed in perpetuating head injuries.  And, what is sad about all this is that contact with the helmet (spearing or whatever you want to call it) is prohibited in the rule book (not just helmet to helmet contact).  Most officials just won't flag it because of ignorance, laziness, or whatever.  When was the last time you were at a game and an official penelized a team for this?  My guess is never, yet leading with the helmet and contacting an opponent with it happens in every game.  

Maestro's picture

My kids (7 and 4) play soccer, ride bikes, play baseball/softball, go to the pool, wrestle, goof around and in general act like kids should act.  However, the more we learn about brain trauma (props to my aunt at the University of Akron) the more we should use the information to the benefit of our kids.  I am not in favor of putting kids in bubble wrap but you can be smart and still have fun/play sports.  
For instance, my kids were playing on a slip and slide yesterday on a fairly steep hill.  My rule was that they had to go down on their knees or belly.  Like was mentioned above, the head bouncing off the ground was my biggest concern. Trying to go down the slide while standing up proved to cause this to happen when my 4-year-old lost his footing and fell straight backwards.  He only did it once thankfully despite my warnings, and my kids had a blast.
I have always said that if my son really wants to play football I will likely let him.  Definitely not until he is a little older (5th grade roughly), and definitely not if his body type lends him to being injured.

vacuuming sucks

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Let's not overract, that's all.
We do not really know how the risks of brain issues from participation in tackle football compare to equal participation in soccer, dirt bike racing, gymnastics, etc. There are a lot more "subjects" who've played football than most other potentially higher-risk sports. 
What if we took a random sample of 1,000 extremely active 22 year old males who have never played tackle football and compared them to a random sample of 1,000 extremely active 22 year old males who have played tackle football? Maybe the football players will show higher rates of certain issues; maybe not.
But what I'm mostly hearing is 1). anecdotal evidence + 2). studies that conclude that playing "football is dangerous," as if that were a revelation.

Johnny Ginter's picture

just out of curiosity, did you read through the links that i provided? because they address your exact question

Run_Fido_Run's picture

The last link you provided is a good start: normalized concussion rates among various h.s. sports. That's probably the key to comparing the brain risks among the different sports, but not exclusively. For example, maybe 10 average headers in h.s. soccer, which do not cause immediate effects classified as a minor concussion, are effectively as risky as one impact in h.s. football that is classified as a minor concussion.
Also, I'd be concerned about deeper issues if we're moving in a direction whereby we channel all kids into safe, low impact calesthenics, and phase out all but the safest team sports. If h.s. football were outlawed, that puts girls soccer next on the list as most dangerous (according to the statistics you cite); when that's outlawed, it's time to shut down boys lacrosse, and so forth.

sharkvsghost's picture

ahh, the ol' slippery slope argument...my fave.
why does everyone interpret the "let's chill out on glorifying the head-hunting culture prevalent in american football" argument as "we should ban football?" unless i'm misunderstood, johnny never made the case that we should channel everyone in to low impact calesthenics. nor has anyone else on this site who has tried to raise some awareness on this issue.
as human beings we shouldn't turn a blind eye to the toll this kind of play is taking on the bodies of young men, even if that means it kills the buzz induced by an alt-christian-buttrock scored youtube video. that doesn't mean outlaw football. it just means celebrating sound fundamentals. put a facemask on the ball, a shoulder in the belly, and wrap your arms. obviously that won't eliminate the risk of injury or concussion - risk in this game will never be eliminated - but it can be lessened if we stop exhalting high hits, hits on defenseless players, using your helmet as a weapon, etc. that sort of play is not to be celebrated - that's all. why is this hard?

swing hard in case you hit it.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Fair enough, very good points. Btw, though, people always complain about slippery slope arguments even though much of modern democratic history has progressed along slippery slopes.
I'm afraid I wasn't very clear (which is my bad): I didn't mean to suggest that Johnny was advocating that youth fball be banned. Rather, that it's quite likely that, given enough steam behind campaigns to "raise some awareness," that certain parties would advocate just such a policy (and already have; it's just that their numbers will grow). And, even though I'll be the bitter opponents of such parties, they will have a point.
After all, what do you propose to do, exactly, in response to the raised awareness? They're already working very diligently on designing equipment that will lower risks. I agree, definitely, that it's essential for coaches to teach, and players to practice and perform, "sound fundamentals," but aren't coaches already making a very concerted effort to do just that? I'm skeptical that coaches lack awareness when it comes to the importance of fundamentals to the safety of their players and the quality of play, etc. Finally, if there are parents out there celebrating "outlaw football" acts by their children, even broadcasting them on You Tube, to what extent would we expect an awareness campaign to change the attitudes and habits of such people?
So, that leaves us mainly with "political" options, such as: 1). lobbying You Tube to pull videos glorifying dangerous examples of youth fball hits; 2). putting pressure on youth fball organizers to change their game rules so that it becomes a less physical game, sort of a quasi-flag fball; 3). pressuring legislative bodies to pass laws restricting how youth fball operates, etc. 
By all means, I appluad your's and Johnny's efforts to raise awareness, but pardon me if I point out that such awareness campaigns sometimes take on lives of their own, and venture off into directions that the orginal awareness-raisers might not have intended to go.     

sharkvsghost's picture

@RUN_FIDO_RUN  I understand the point you're making and I know that there are people becoming more and more vocal about banning the sport all together (http://www.npr.org/2012/05/14/152437462/debate-should-college-football-b...), but here's my take:
"After all, what do you propose to do, exactly, in response to the raised awareness? They're already working very diligently on designing equipment that will lower risks. I agree, definitely, that it's essential for coaches to teach, and players to practice and perform, "sound fundamentals," but aren't coaches already making a very concerted effort to do just that?"
I sincerely believe that most coaches are, in fact, concerned with their kids practicing sound fundamentals, but the videos the johnny referenced are proof that there's still some work to do on that front. A lot of these guys coaching at the pee-wee through junior high level are dads and/or guys without a lot of coaching experience. i'm sure their intentions are great, but having 6 year-olds blow each other up in oklahoma drills is not ok.
"So, that leaves us mainly with "political" options, such as: 1). lobbying You Tube to pull videos glorifying dangerous examples of youth fball hits; 2). putting pressure on youth fball organizers to change their game rules so that it becomes a less physical game, sort of a quasi-flag fball; 3). pressuring legislative bodies to pass laws restricting how youth fball operates, etc. "
I'm not suggesting we lobby youtube to pull videos, I'm suggesting that as a society we stop amusing ourselves by watching children turn their brains to mush by playing bad football. The videos can stay or go, but we need to change how we view them. I'm not sure what's wrong with the other political actions you suggest. This isn't the first time that violence in football has come under scrutiny, and subsequently remedied with modifications to the rules (see: forward pass). A lot of people at the turn of the century said the forward pass was "sissifying the game" (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/The-Early-History-of-F...), even while high school and college kids were dying playing the game.
If you're worried about the slippery slope taking football away, then you should be in favor of any modification(s) that can reduce these head injuries.  If nothing changes, then people are only going to be more turned off by the sport as we learn more about the long term ramifications of brain trauma. i love football and i want it to stick around for a while, if that means some making modifications then so be it. 
"By all means, I appluad your's and Johnny's efforts to raise awareness..."
Thanks, but thank johnny - he wrote the piece (and has brought this up before). I'm just some dude, bored at work, with the time to comment.  I appreciate the discussion though! I think we can both agree that football is pretty awesome, even if we disagree on how to solve this issue.

swing hard in case you hit it.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

@Shark: you make several excellent points, but I'm just not that confident - call me a crusty old fool - that your recommendations can be translated into results, short of the fans making a very serious commitment to such a "project."
 Already, the training infrastructure for coaches is pretty impressive, definitely more sophisticated than it was 30 years ago, and yet aren't concussions on the rise compared to 30 years ago? With enough money, we could probably better train lower-level youth coaches, but there will always be poor-to-mediocre coaches who slip between the cracks.
And, as for inspiring society to be less apt to celebrate dangeorus activities involving young kids, that seems like a difficult project - one that's been tried in other forms and venues a thousand times before, with debatable results.
I guess one option is to publicly shame coaches, parents, fans who are celebrating in reckless ways.
I'm not against that. I just suspect that, when push comes to shove, those most concerned about the dangers will feel that they must turn to the "political" outlets to satisfy their demands.
At that point, the rules for youth football might be modified to make it a lower impact sport. Okay, but then let's have a discussion about what that'll mean to the game.    

rdubs's picture

Awesome article, probably my favorite one on the site yet.
One big issue with concussions is that we are still learning quite a bit about them and how they  impact people further down the line.  The NCAA was created in part to keep Harvard from beating Yale every year (Teddy was an Eli), but mainly because 10 or so college students were dying each year during games.  I think we can all agree that if that were happening we would want a governing body to step in and take action to prevent this from happening.  However at this point there is more and more evidence accumulating that indicates that people are dying 20 or so years down the line from their time on the football field.  To me this is no worse.  I may not have to witness it on the field, but Junior Seau committing suicide because of his brain's deteriorating condition (likely as a result of repeated blows to the head) is no less tragic.
Also to the people who are saying that they knew the dangers of playing and accepted responsibility for their actions: Johnny did a good job of pointing out one flaw in that logic (pop warner), but I am not sure that all NFL or college players over the last 20+ years were aware of all of the risks.  If we are only just now learning the impact of repetitive subconcussive hits, then there is no indication that anyone would have known about this when deciding whether or not to play.  And this is where the NFL is most vulnerable to being sued by current and former players as there is some indication that they withheld information about concussions.

Poison nuts's picture

Good article...just getting to it after a long day. Thank goodness I have a daughter. If I had a son - he would likely not play football. I played when I was young but as you point out - it seems that our culture is changing. Putting a hurting on people & posting to YouTube really is an ignorant phenomenon. Proud parents rushing to show other parents how tough their child is. I was pretty sick to my stomach just watching some of those hits by really little kids. Which brings me to this....
People are dumb.

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

Pam's picture

Don't put her in cheerleading or gymnastics. Leading causes of injuries for girls.

William's picture

I'd imagine so, especially with all of the possibilities for falling in cheerleading.

Pam's picture

Cheerleading is dangerous because they do gymnastic type moves combined with being thrown in the air. A girl at my son's school was tossed in the air, did a flip and overshot the spotters on the way down. She hit the ground on her butt and bounced a couple of times. This was at Homecoming and it was sickening to watch.  She broke her tail bone and had some injured vertebrae.

William's picture

Ouch, imagine that was quite painful. The worst sporting accident to happen at my high school was during a corner kick in one of my school's soccer games. We played a perfect ball to the back post, one of our forwards went to scissor-kick the ball, and the opposing team's goalie dove as he was kicking. My teammate kicked the goalie right in the temple. Complete accident, and he thought he had killed the kid, but luckily he was only knocked out and paralyzed for a short time. Crazy stuff.

Poison nuts's picture

I'm fairly over protective anyways...hopefully she ends up with painting & crosswords as her sports of choice!

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

nickma71's picture

Yeah, whatever you do, don't teach kids how to tackle. They won't need that fundamental when going up against Pete Johnson, or similar. Just hit him, because spearing isn't called any more.

klfeck's picture

All in favor of switching from football to soccer say Yay?
thought so.

Kevin

OH!!!!!

Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University

William's picture

I'll take the EPL over the NFL any day of the week...

smith5568's picture

I am not sure where to start, so many places I would like to reply. Having suffered a severe grade IIIa concussion playing high school football, I still think the concussion issue is a little overblown. All this concussion information is not "new", the doctors I saw knew about these issues ten years ago. 
Call me a meathead or idiot, but people get hurt, it happens. As long as those playing make educated decisions regarding whether to play, I am fine with the risks associated with it.  

Olemissbuckeye's picture

http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7352942/waiting-science Interesting related read by HOF goalie Ken Dryden on the NHL's issues and the defense of waiting on science.

buckeye76BHop's picture

Johnny...great article...as for ShadyBuckeye and others who want to slam "media" about the concussions are MORONS!  Have they not seen the countless NFL players who are committing suicide or having SERIOUS neurological problems...WOWWWWWWW!  Overblown by media...WOW is all I can say.  Now I will say that MOST if not ALL of these videos that I've seen with Pop Warner or whomever seems to be bad coaching on technique.  You should "NEVER" lead with your head.  Not to mention there are other drills that can be used to illustrate how to tackle without the huge collisions.  Now football is a "collision" sport and not "contact" sport.  This should always be in your mind when discussing this matter.  It's up to the Dr's to permit the player who has a said concussion to return to play not to mention the player him or her self.  Tired of hearing how "coaches" are fully responsible.  They're responsible for showing the proper ways to tackle and hit.  The players then have to do so in practice and on the playing field...however most don't.  As you see on TV, often times they're going so fast it's hard to let up on a hit.  I remember that myself as a DE coming at a QB's blind side while they're about to throw.  I always hit em even if it was close...that was just me.  To the ignoramuses please stop slamming these guys who write great shit everyday with proof to their articles....They're not Bleacher Report so don't treat them like they are.  Sorry Johnny ppl get me pissed off sometimes when they talk out their asses.   Go BUCKS!

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."
"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."
Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987