Your opening paragraphs do a great service to our sport. The excitement generated by last year’s Super Bowl, to say nothing of the presence of one of the game’s participants (Seahawk Tight End Luke Willson) at our May 1-2 clinic, speaks volumes to fans here at home both young and old. I am sure you would not be surprised by the number of “30 somethings” who say: “I wish this game was here when I was a kid”.
However I take exception to the emphasis you place on the need for caution by parents particularly as it pertains to concussions. Football should not be singled out when it comes to class action lawsuits as the National Hockey League is currently embroiled in a similar suit. The “bad old days” of players returning to the field/ice after a serious blow to the head has virtually come to an end. Our coaches are trained to, as you say, to “teach these players how to appropriately make a tackle” (and how to make a block).
All of our coaches are mandated by Football Canada to complete a program titled “Making Headway in Football” (a concussion awareness program). All football coaches in Canada must now complete a 10-12 hour course in Safe Contact which trains them how to teach the appropriate method of blocking and tackling — taking the head out of the game.
Parents are made aware that a concussion, in and of itself, is a serious injury. But, to receive a second concussion prior to fully recovering from the first is even a greater injury. Football NL has a very strict procedure that requires a player to complete a specific “return to play” regimen after receiving a concussion. We are also investigating a program that would provide each individual player with a baseline assessment that would be referred to when he/she is recovering from a concussion.
Let’s focus on the benefits of football. The teaching of discipline, teamwork, skill acquisition and fun in a sport that is new to our young people.
Let’s herald the fact that football provides an opportunity for boys and girls of all heights/weights; fast or not so fast; tall or short to find a niche.
Let’s encourage the players to dream of playing the game at another level—27 universities (as well as junior and junior colleges) play the game in this country alone AND football is a game at which freshmen actually have a chance of making a roster.
Football is a great game that has been played in Canada and the U.S. for more than a century. It’s now back here in Newfoundland and Labrador. Let’s be champions for its successful growth and continuance. We’ll be back in CBN in the fall.
It was once said: “If you build it, they will come.” We’ll, we’ve built it. We invite you to come.
Brian Hughes is the president of Football NL