Archive for the ‘football’ Category

Changes ahead for youth football?

January 11, 2016

The new year could be bringing a new look to youth football around the country. Case in point: Somerville, Massachusetts, has announced its recreation department is changing the city’s youth football program from tackle to “non-contact” flag football for kids in first through eighth grade.

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Photo courtesy Grand Forks Park District

In an article published by boston.com, city officials cited concerns nationwide over increases in injuries for young players in contact football, as well as declining enrollment in the city’s contact program. The changes were announced this past week, to go into effect this summer.

“Particularly over the past few years, the rise in injuries among young people playing contact football, both in game situations and during regular practices, demonstrates a need for us to reevaluate the programs we offer to our youngest residents,” Jill Lathan, the city’s director of Recreation and Youth, said. “Somerville Recreation has a history of providing programs and opportunities for youth of all ages and interest levels, but we also have a commitment to keep our children safe while they have fun.”

Lathan also said the recreation department will continue to support those who want to continue to play in a contact football program, like Pop Warner, through its equipment rental program, but the city will not sponsor a tackle football program for young players.

“Interest and participation in flag football is increasing both in Somerville and nationwide, and we are excited to be able to offer the program here in Somerville that will teach youth the necessary skills if they do choose to participate in contact football at an older age,” Lathan said.

The city seems to be following recommendations made by Dr. Bennet Omalu, famously portrayed by Will Smith in the new movie, “Concussion,” who said in an op-ed piece in the New York Times last month that there should be a minimum age to play tackle football because children’s developing brains should be protected from concussions. While few believe that the minimum age will be set at 18, as Dr. Omalu suggests, this move by Somerville shows that municipalities are taking the threat of brain injuries seriously and are taking steps to try to keep players safer.

The Future of Football

December 8, 2015

Before the Christmas release of the film, “Concussion,” the researcher whose work is the basis for the movie, Bennet Omalu, wrote a New York Times op-ed piece that appeared Monday, in which he says that children under age 18 should not be allowed to play full-contact football.

AFI FEST 2015 Presented By Audi Centerpiece Gala Premiere Of Columbia Pictures' "Concussion" - Arrivals

HOLLYWOOD, CA – NOVEMBER 10: Bennet Omalu attends the Centerpiece Gala Premiere of Columbia Pictures’ “Concussion” during AFI FEST 2015 presented by Audi at the TCL Chinese Theatre on November 10, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Omalu likens the dangers of football to other known dangers like smoking, asbestos and alcohol, His argument is, we learned of the dangers of each, and now have education and, in some cases, laws in place to protect people from their misuse. We know about the dangers of football, he argues, and it is now time to protect young people from the head trauma that we’ve seen in older players.

Omalu is the first person to link repeated concussions and head trauma to CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative condition blamed in part for the deaths of a number of high profile NFL players, including Junior Seau and Mike Webster.

In the article, Omalu makes the point “that repetitive blows to the head in high-impact contact sports like football, ice hockey, mixed-martial arts and boxing place athletes at high risk of permanent brain damage. …Why, then, do we continue to intentionally expose our children to this risk?”

In the short term, Omalu’s proposal would change youth football to a non-contact, touch or flag football game. In the long term, though, eliminating youth football as it is played at higher levels would effectively kill the college and professional game in the United States. If youngsters don’t grow up playing the game at it exists now, there’s a slim to none chance they will pick it up when they are “of age.”

In the wake of the New York Times piece, former college and NFL quarterback Danny Kanell tweeted that “the war on football is real.” For youth football organizers, it’s time to look realistically at the dangers and work hard to make the game safer.

 

Safety is Priority 1

October 6, 2015

Friday night, October 2, Kenny Bui, a senior at Evergreen High in Seattle, Washington was playing defensive back for his school’s football team when he was injured making a tackle. He was taken to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery, but died the following Monday.

Kenny becomes the fourth high school football player to die this season in this country because of on-field injuries. Tyrell Cameron from Louisiana suffered a neck injury; Ben Hamm from Oklahoma died more than a week after a hit to the head; Evan Murray from New Jersey died from bleeding caused by a lacerated spleen.

Kenny wasn’t even the only player in the Seattle area hospitalized Friday night. Another player suffered a broken bone in his neck and has been fitted with a halo brace. And a week earlier, yet another player in Seattle collapsed during a game and suffered swelling in his brain.

According to a study almost a decade old from the American Journal of Sports Medicine, high school football players suffer three times as many catastrophic injuries as college players. One reason is sheer numbers: About 100,000 play NFL, college, semipro and Arena football combined. About 1.1 million high schoolers play football, around 3 million play youth football, according to USA Football. Some speculate the injuries at younger levels could be from using older equipment: Schools and youth football teams just can’t afford better, safer helmets. Another reason? Younger brains are more susceptible to injury. And not every youth team has an athletic trainer at the ready.

USA Football goes out of its way to train youth coaches on how to teach the game the right way. Youth sports are vital to the growth and development of athletes, and making those sports as safe as possible, whether it’s football, youth basketball or club soccer teams, are all our responsibilities.

Rawlings helmet

Photo courtesy of Rawlings

Rules of Engagement

September 17, 2015

It’s happened again.

In the span of just over a week, another high school referee has been assaulted during a football game, and again it happened in Texas.

This time the incident involved a player from San Antonio’s St. Anthony High School who, video shows, shoved a referee following an altercation on the field during the game.

Here’s the setup: The player had been penalized for being involved in a scuffle on the field during play, but after the flag was thrown the player pushed the referee who called the penalty by the shoulders before his teammates pulled him away.

No surprise, the player was tossed from the game after that.

Of course, all this comes on the heels of the incident at John Jay High School the week before, where video shows two John Jay players targeting a backfield judge, one knocking the referee down, the second one spearing him as he was on the ground.

What is precipitating these acts? Maybe there is no correlation between the two. In the case of the John Jay incident, the players now are claiming the targeted referee used racial slurs against them. For his part, the umpire is considering criminal charges.

But now we have video of the incidents, and we can see how disturbing the acts are. And perhaps it all has to do with the pressure of winning, especially in football-mad Texas. For his part, the top athletic official in John Jay’s school district, said, “This is the first time I’ve ever witnessed and experienced (anything like this) in the realm of athletics.”

While coaches have the responsibility to teach their players the lessons of sportsmanship and fair play, event organizers now have the responsibility of what to do when the rules aren’t followed. In Indiana, for example, referees suspended a season-opening football game after players got into a shoving match, which seems pretty tame after the referee-assault incidents we’ve now seen.

Schools and athletic conferences as well as event rights holders who produce out-of-school events now have to worry about not just the safety of players, but the safety of the referees, umpires and others paid to keep order at the games. The bottom line is, this has to stop to keep organized sports alive. Today, the issue is football. Tomorrow, it just might be basketball.

Photo courtesy of MaxPreps.

Photo courtesy of MaxPreps.

Tackling the issue of sportsmanship

September 8, 2015

We know they take their football seriously in Texas, but this is over the top.

You probably have seen the video of the football game between two San Antonio-area high schools, John Jay High and Marble Falls, where a backfield referee was blindsided from behind by one John Jay player, then speared by a second as he was still down.

No surprise, both players were thrown out of the game, and both are suspended from the team pending the investigation.

What triggered all of this? Again, the investigation is still under way, but a couple of plays earlier, the team’s quarterback, who also plays defense, was ejected from the game while on defense. A fourth John Jay player had been tossed out earlier in the game.

When you watch the video, it seems obvious that the first player who runs into the back of the referee had the move planned. It wasn’t an accidental collision, the player aimed for the ref. So, it looks like, did the second player.

Of course, the investigation will tell more of the story. But it may never tell us what got into the heads of these athletes to even think that crushing a referee would be acceptable behavior. Sure, they may have been upset that their teammates had been thrown out of the game, but leveling a referee is hardly the way to settle the issue.

The larger issue is, why haven’t the lessons of fair play, respecting authority and following rules been taught? It’s easy sometimes to blame the kids. Maybe it’s time to put the microscope on the adults in charge who know better. Or should.

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photo courtesy of wgso.com

Helicopter Parenting, Celebrity Style

July 2, 2015

We may find out this week whether Sean “Diddy” Combs will be charged by the district attorney after his dustup last week with the UCLA football strength and conditioning coach.

In an incident that someone said was “helicopter parenting by a parent who actually owns a helicopter,” Diddy got into a fight with Bruins coach Sal Alosi after the coach screamed at Diddy’s son, Justin, on the practice field.

Now, no one likes to see their child get screamed at, so Diddy allegedly confronted the coach in his office and he was 1)either defending himself from the coach’s threats or 2)threw a kettlebell weight at the coach during the argument. Diddy’s arrest includes three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of making terrorist threats and one count of battery. There is said to be surveillance video of the incident, so more should be known soon.

A bit of background: If Sal Alosi’s name sounds familiar, it should, because he was an assistant with the New York Jets almost five years ago when he tripped a Miami Dolphins player as he was running down the sidelines covering a punt.

As for Justin combs, he’s a redshirt junior defensive back for the Bruins and has played a handful of games during his UCLA career. UCLA is becoming the program of choice for rap star’s sons: Snoop Dogg’s son just signed with the Bruins this year.

You don’t have to have been around youth sports long to see verbal confrontations between parents and coaches, during and after games. Who is at fault for what in this particular incident has yet to be sorted out, but it’s not unique in youth sports and it’s a big reason kids say they leave sports in their early teen years.

A coach’s job is to make that young player the best he or she can be. A parent’s job is to be as supportive as possible. And let’s think about what the atmosphere in that locker room is going to be when – or if – Justin Combs returns to the UCLA program.

A Hall of Fame Project

June 1, 2015

Ever been to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton?

You don’t have to be a football fan to enjoy the history that the orange juicer-shaped building contains. Canton, of course, was the site of the early Canton Bulldogs, which helped found the National Football League in the early 1900s. The city’s place in NFL history made it a natural site for the league’s most hallowed honor.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is pretty impressive now, but if plans come to fruition, it’ll be a major economic driver for northeast Ohio. Last fall the Hall of Fame announced plans for Hall of Fame Village, expanding the area and making it an interactive and educational football attraction.

According to a study conducted by Conventions, Sports & Leisure International (CSL),
HOF Village will generate $15.3 billion in cumulative net new total economic output within Stark County, home of the Hall of Fame, over the next 25 years. Additionally, a total of 13,375 new full and part-time jobs will be created within the county during the peak year of the project.

But wait, there’s more.  The cumulative economic and fiscal impact of HOF Village on the State of Ohio estimated over a 25-year period include $4.8 billion cumulating net new personal earnings and $1.0 billion new cumulative tax revenues.

CSL’s analysis is the result of a yearlong study of the project. The methodology of the economic analytics focuses on direct spending that occurs in three ways: construction (materials, labor, design and professional fees), in-facility (direct spending generated by visitors and participation throughout HOF Village) and out-of-facility spending (direct spending away from HOF Village in the city, county and regional areas).

The complex is designed to include the Hall of Fame Museum; the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium (Fawcett Stadium is the facility now adjacent to the Museum, where high school and college games are played as well as the HOF game); a hotel and conference center, the Hall of Fame NFL Experience, youth fields, a residential area, the Center for Excellence which will include athletic performance and safety center, coaches’ university and the Institute of Integrity for Officiating and a retail/restaurant/office space area.

Construction costs are estimated at $476 million, according to the Hall of Fame. The project is due to start this summer, with the first phase to open in 2019.

Hall of Fame plans for a Hall of Fame facility that could reshape the face, and the economy, of football-crazy northeast Ohio.

Hall-of-Fame-Village-650

To Ticket or not to Ticket

February 4, 2015

We’re all used to buying a ticket to a sports event, whether it’s basketball, football or even our kids’ high school games. But what about the every-day events with which you are involved? How many of them require tickets to enter? And why or why not?Featured image The genesis of this issue came from a discussion with colleagues who are involved in college sports. They are in the middle of deciding whether to stop requiring tickets for the women’s basketball games, as well as some of the “Olympic” sports like soccer, lacrosse, etc.

You’ve heard the arguments before: By making it a ticketed event, you are putting a “value” on the game. This event is worth something and if you have to pay to attend, then you have invested in actually attending the event. Once you show up, you’re likely to buy concessions, pay for parking and spend money that wouldn’t be spent if you stayed home.

Conversely, while it’s tempting to hand out free tickets to try to get bodies in the seats, the prospective attendees don’t have an investment in the event. If someone gives me a free ticket and I decide not to go, I don’t have a financial loss because I haven’t plunked down my $5. No concessions, no parking, no souvenir shopping.

Does your gymnastics event require a ticket? How about your weekend high school basketball shootout or your cheer competition? Of course, you’re always going to get family and close friends to attend, but does having a ticket (or not having a ticket) affect your walk-in attendance numbers?

Let us know about your ticketing policies and why or why not you require admission. Best practices help all of us put on better events. Post your comments on the NASC Facebook page.

Security Rules Affect All Levels of Sport

September 22, 2014

We’re now entering our second year of the NFL’s “new” bag policy, and after the expected initial hue and cry over the rule change, fans seem to have settled into the new normal.

For those not initiated, the policy bans anything other than bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12” x 6” x 12,” or one-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar).

Small clutch bags, approximately the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap can be taken into the stadium with one of the clear plastic bag options.

Prohibited items include, but are not limited to: Purses larger than a clutch bag, coolers, briefcases, backpacks, fanny packs, cinch bags, seat cushions, luggage of any kind, computer bags and camera bags or any bag larger than the permissible size.

Now, Major League Baseball is also testing a tighter security entrance at the end of this season, setting up airport-like checkpoints at the entry. That will be the norm for all clubs in 2015.

College football stadiums also are beginning to follow the NFL model banning bags and oversized purses and backpacks of any kind and making sure everyone has a ticket.  And frankly, in this age of incidents at sports venues, very few people complain about the changes.

How does this impact your own event or venue? When you’re dealing with youth sports in particular, you can’t be too careful. But there’s a fine line between security and annoyance. The good news is, most everyone who attends some game, knows the drill and is familiar with purse checks, etc. It’s not like you have to reinvent the wheel.

As the NASC CSEE module this week drills down on security issues and crisis planning, it’s a good reminder to look at your own plans. Talk with your staff, with local security and others to get a sense on how to handle a crisis and how to plan to minimize the chance something can go wrong.

You can’t be too prepared for something you hope will never happen.

 

NFL bag policy

Is the Super Bowl a Super Win for the Hosts?

January 30, 2014

The Super Bowl has long been seen as the big ‘get’ for any host city. With international exposure, out of town visitors and spending all week, it looks to be a no-brainer event.

For the upcoming Super Bowl XLVIII, it’s estimated the game and ancillary events will mean a half billion dollars to the greater New York metropolitan area, according to the Sport Management Research Institute. The New York/New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee says the economic impact is estimated to be between $500 million and $600 million for the region, including hotels, restaurants, bars, taxis, car services and small businesses.

Now, most sources think those estimates are pie in the sky, at best. A more historical look at the spending comes from PricewaterhouseCoopers. Over the last 12 years the actual direct spending for Super Bowls has been between $113 million and $202 million for each game.

“The true economic impact comes from visitors only, with no spending by locals included except staging costs for the game and ancillary events. These expenses are incurred solely to meet the needs of the event, so it is spending above what would otherwise take place. The displacement theory (crowding out) is a bigger factor in a warm weather site, where visits for non-game purposes could come close to or even match those for the game,” said Don Schumacher, CSEE, Executive Director of NASC.

For Indianapolis and its Super Bowl XLVI, a report by Rockport Analytics shows that more than 116,000 non-residents came to Indiana’s capital for the game and other events. Indianapolis non-residents brought in more than 472,000 visitor days in the metro area (how many visitors would otherwise come to Indy in the middle of winter?). Hotel occupancy averaged 93% for the area, 99% for downtown.

Visitors to Indy spent more than $264 million on the local economy, averaging nearly $571 per person, per day. All totaled, gross spending total economic impacts of Super Bowl XLVI was an estimated $324 million, broken down to $176 million in direct impact, $67 million in indirect impact and $81 million in income. With Indianapolis keeping $324 million of the $384 million in Super Bowl-initiated spending, about 84 cents of every dollar spent, stayed in Indianapolis. No wonder Indy is bidding again for the 2018 game.

Another factor to include is that economic impact studies on an event as big as a Super Bowl focuses on economic activity created by the game, and not economic activity prevented by the game. Victor Matheson, a sports economist at the College of Holy Cross puts it this way: “They don’t do a very good job measuring how many people are crowded away from the metropolitan area during that weekend because, you know, no one in their right mind goes to the Super Bowl city during Super Bowl weekend unless they’re there for the game,” he said. “Which means any regular business that normally would have happened gets crowded out.”

This Super Bowl also is unique is that it crosses state lines. It’s expected that New York City will get the big spenders who’ll stay in Manhattan, the New Jersey hotels and the service industry will benefit, including local restaurants and limo services.

Will it be a half billion dollar infusion into the area economy? Whatever the dollar figure, it’s invaluable in the halo effect (and media attention) the area has, now that it can call itself a “Super Bowl host.”

Jackie Reau

Game Day Communications

700 West Pete Rose Way

Cincinnati, Ohio 45203

(513) 929-4263, office

(513) 708-5822, mobile

(513) 929-0245, fax

jreau@gamedaypr.com

http://www.gamedaypr.com

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Don’t Depend on Ticket Sales for a Successful Event

January 20, 2014

The first weekend of NFL playoffs saw down-to-the-wire, thrilling games in three of the four contests. It also saw something unusual – a scramble to sell out the first-round playoff games.

In Indianapolis, Cincinnati and, of all places, Green Bay, clubs scrambled, pleaded and cajoled their fan bases to buy tickets to assure sellouts and thus avoid the NFL mandated media market blackouts. To no one’s surprise, enough corporate buyers turned out at the last minute to assure the games would be shown in the home teams’ market.

If nothing else, the scramble for a sellout, and the subsequent publicity surrounding the difficulty to sell tickets, has shone a light on the now-antiquated NFL blackout rule. In fact, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown has called on the Federal Communications Commission to eliminate the Sports Blackout Rule, which was instituted in 1973.

Now, many believe that rule has outlived its usefulness, mainly because the NFL now enjoys the richest television contracts in sports—in 2011 the NFL announced a nine-year extension to its TV packages with Fox, NBC and CBS, under which, according to Forbes, the networks are expected to pay about 60% more than under the old contract.

The new deal, which kicks in after the 2013 season, means the networks will pay about $3 billion a year to show games. Throw in deals with the NFL Network, DirectTV and Westwood One, among others, and NFL teams will split nearly $7 billion in media money per year starting in 2014. That’s more than $200 million per team before a ball hits the turf, no matter who’s blacked out where.

The second reason the blackout rule has seen its time come and go: Ticket sales are an archaic measure of fan support.

It has long been the belief, if a city’s fans won’t buy lots of tickets, they must not be loyal fans. In this day of social media connections, 70” flat screen televisions and RedZone updates, just the opposite is true. Fans are SO involved (especially those who play in fantasy leagues) they want to know what everyone is doing in the league, not just their own team. They’re bigger fans than ever, not just of their team, but of the sport overall.

So what does that mean for an event that you want to bring to your region? Just this: Yes, you want people to attend, and if you bring in a sport or an event that has lots of local participants, all the better to bring in attendees and volunteers. But don’t think you’re going to reach your budget goals by selling $5 tickets to a soccer tournament.

You might have one of the top golf participation areas in the nation, but hold a junior golf tournament in your city and you might find out that you can’t sell tickets. It’s not that people don’t love to watch golf, they love to PLAY golf – usually at the same times your junior tournament is being held.

Or maybe you want people to sample your event—watch youth lacrosse for the first time, for example. What better way to encourage people to stop by than to offer free admission.

During the deep freeze of January 2014, the University of Cincinnati women’s basketball program offered free admission to its game with Rutgers, with complimentary hot chocolate and coffee (courtesy of Coach Jamelle Elliott) for those who braved sub-freezing temperatures to come out. The attendance that night was almost twice what a midweek game usually averages.

The bottom line is, the bottom line. Sponsor support is the life blood of your event. Get your costs covered by sponsorship, and don’t roll the dice on ticket sales. In fact, many youth events have free admission—or tickets at family-friendly prices.

The NFL blackout rule is as dated as event organizers depending on ticket sales to pay for your event. Ticket sales are not a measure of support for the sport. The event world knows that—the NFL needs to realize that as well.

Jackie

Jackie Reau

Game Day Communications

700 West Pete Rose Way

Cincinnati, Ohio 45203

(513) 929-4263, office

(513) 708-5822, mobile

(513) 929-0245, fax

jreau@gamedaypr.com

www.gamedaypr.com

LinkedIn: JackieReau

Facebook: JackieReau

Twitter:@JackieReau