Posts Tagged ‘Football’

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.

youth-football.jpg

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.

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.

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

“Deflategate” and Sports

January 28, 2015

While we are heading into Super Bowl weekend, we should be talking about the game—instead, we’re talking about under inflated footballs, and who’s to blame.

We’re acting as if playing fast and loose with the rules is something new in sports. The old saying, “if you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t tryin’” is said mostly in jest, but for some it’s too often a stain on their sports record.

In 2001 Danny Almonte was probably the most famous Little League pitcher in the country, throwing a solid 76 miles an hour and tossing a no-hitter in the Regional Finals to send his team from the Bronx to the Little League World Series. He then threw a perfect game during the Series and ended the series striking out 62 of the 72 batters he faced. Problem was, he was found to be 14-years-old during the Series, not the 12-years-old he was supposed to be.

Youth football isn’t immune to cheating allegations. A Tennessee youth football team was suspended, along with five coaches, for misreporting player’s weight before games. A certain weight means the player can’t run the ball or play certain positions so he doesn’t hurt smaller players. Once home video showed the coaches, still on the sidelines, the team was suspended from the league.

In fact, type in the name of just about any youth sport and add “cheating” to the search and you’re bound to find examples of bad behavior among players and/or coaches.

This controversy will be resolved, one way or the other, and the game will be played. But it shows you that no matter what the age or the sport, teams are always walking the edge, trying to get an advantage in the biggest games of the season.

Will it spoil your Super Bowl viewing? Let us know what you think on the NASC Facebook page.

deflated-football - Copy

The Power of Sports

November 18, 2014

Not often will an NFL backup defensive lineman and a freshman forward on a Division III women’s basketball team make national news and touch countless lives. But in the last month we have seen the power of sports touch emotions and raise millions of dollars.

The story of Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still’s daughter, Leah, and her fight against pediatric cancer reached far beyond the NFL. More than $1.3 million was raised through the sale of Still’s number 75 jersey for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and its pediatric cancer research.

Just as dramatic, is the story of Lauren Hill, the Mt. St. Joseph basketball player who was diagnosed her senior year of high school with an inoperable brain tumor and whose only wish was to play a college basketball game. The NCAA allowed the school to move up the date of its season opener to assure Lauren would be well enough to play in at least that one game.

But her #layups4Lauren campaign, similar to this summer’s ice bucket challenge, continues, as she challenges celebrities and pro athletes to make a donation to The Cure Starts Now, dedicated to raising funds for pediatric cancer research. Her efforts, too, are raising hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“I never thought I would play on a college court, put my feet on the floor and feel the vibration of the crowd,” she said after that first game against Hiram College. That is a quote from someone who truly loves her sport and is grateful for the opportunity to play.

Every once in a while, the games that student-athletes and professionals play transcend sports and remind us what is really important. A 4-year-old who is undergoing chemotherapy and a 19-year-old grateful to take the court before the inevitable occurs remind us that sports can touch us all and can make a difference long after the final buzzer sounds.

Pat Summitt presented Lauren Hill with the “Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award” at halftime of the Mount St. Joseph University game in Cincinnati.

Pat Summitt presented Lauren Hill with the “Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award” at halftime of the Mount St. Joseph University game in Cincinnati.