Would you encourage a kid to join a football team?

Fans wrapped in layers of blanket gingerly sipping hot cocoa as they gaze out onto the brightly lit field. The pep band plays chorus after chorus of school cheers and anthems. Cheerleaders bounce about and shout to get the crowd excited. The crowd roars its approval as their team gets a touchdown. It’s Friday night football.

Football is a popular American pastime, whether it’s at the professional level or Friday night high school football, fans won’t be disappointed. It’s a game of aggression and strategy. And every so often in the midst of all the fun someone falls prey to the dangers of the game.

MPR News and Kare 11 joined together to do an extensive in-depth report on concussions in high school football athletes. What they found out is there has been drastic changes in how concussions are handled, but schools are still follow different protocols.

• In the three years since a state law required players suspected of suffering head injuries to be pulled from games and not allowed to return without medical clearance, schools have complied hundreds of times. But the law doesn’t require schools to keep track of those injuries. Some do and some don’t.

• Virtually all schools provide parents with detailed information about safety and head injuries. Some schools do more than others.

• Some schools have changed the way they hold practices, reducing the amount of contact between players, and coaches are finding ways to teach students to play differently. Next year, the Minnesota State High School League will require all schools to adopt some practice changes.

The Minnesota State High School League is also implementing additional protocols to protect players.

But even with these additional regulations players could still get hurt, it is a physical contact sport after all.

Today’s Question: Would you encourage a kid to join a football team?

  • Gary F

    Yes. Definitely. It offers a great package of many life skills needed for today’s youth.

    • Thanks for the comment, Gary. Can you elaborate on those life skills that the game helps build that you find important for the youth of today?

    • Sue de Nim

      The “life skills” I think football teaches are these:
      1. If someone is standing between you and your goal, the correct thing to do is knock them down and run over them.
      2. If you’re good enough at it, you can be pardoned for all sorts of socially unacceptable behavior in the interest of keeping you on the team.

      As for teamwork, there are lots of excellent ways to teach that without putting young people’s brains and bodies at risk.

      • Gary F

        1. or maneuver around them without knocking them over.
        2. That is a problem with more than just football. The entertainment industry has that problem too.

        • Jon

          Football is a part of the entertainment industry

  • Gary F

    Being part of a team. Knowing that only a few people can actually score the points but knowing you are a important cog in the wheel. Whether you are the left guard or holder for the place kicker, or on the scout team defense, not everyone can run with the ball. A sport that if you aren’t completely on the ball every play, you or your team mate could get clobbered if you aren’t putting out 100%. A game where week in and week out, you could get your lunch eaten every day and you gotta pull yourself up and keep going. A game where your mental toughness is challenged every day, and those of your teammates. Unless everyone is putting out 100%, it doesn’t work.

    • JQP

      sports is not the only place these skills and habits can be learned. its one place to get those benefits and vastly under-reports its negative outcomes.

      try family farming. or living in poverty. aint nobody cheering for you. just get to work. every day.

    • PaulJ

      Sports also reinforce the notions that other’s resources should be devoted to my recreation, that playing make believe has great significance, and that entertaining others is what really matters.

    • Jim G

      All true. By reading your posts on football lately I’ve learned that we have something in common. Both you and I played this game at an early age through High School and into college before injuries knocked us out of game. I loved the physicality of the game. Testosterone is a powerful hormone, and football channels energy in a seemingly positive pursuit. However, there are physical costs to the players. Some are readily noticeable and impact the quality of life for former players immediately (i.e. unstable knees caused by torn tendons, shoulder pain, neck injuries. and for daily visual reminders that I played the game broken fingers that never received proper attention and are now permanently deformed.) Then we come to the concussions. I had at least two episodes where I have no memory of games. Once in High School and another in college. Yes, all your assertions about the game are true. However, golf, tennis, gymnastics, volleyball, and other non contact sports can also fulfill many of many of them and not require the personal physical cost that this game does. So, NO! My advice is to council young boys to not play football, but to choose another sport, perhaps one that they’ll be able to partake of in later in life,

  • JQP

    no. nor rugby. I’d be wary of hockey as well. Soccer and basketball next. Baseball is reasonably safe.

    Non-contact or low-contact versions could be developed for kids to learn skills, teamwork and play making without all the bodily damage.

    Youth sports seasons should be cut back by a full third or more and the maximum time allowed in practice should not exceed 7 hours week while classes are in session – excluding games and travel time. Sports is supposed to a diversion not an obsession.

    All kids up to ages 18-19 should be be engaged in physical activities like stretching, yoga, distance walking, running, moderate weights lifting – so they develop life long general body strength and flexibility.

    Later in life , as adults, those same kids can choose to enter contact sports well aware of the issues, potential damage and commitment they are making.

    • Andreas Nettmayer

      5 on 5 soccer is relatively safe, avoiding tackles. Some leagues avoid heading as well (which is more prone to injury, especially when two players both are attempting to win a header). Some leagues have no goalkeepers, which keeps the scoring high. Even better, the 5 on 5 format allows for quick passing and possession style play that helps youngsters develop technical ball skills one normally associates with teams like FC Barcelona, the Spanish National Team, or to a lesser degree, the Brazilian National Team.

  • Elijah the Tishbite

    On the contrary. I actively discourage any devotion to that idol, Footbaal, which demands human sacrifice, makes false promises of glory and prestige to its young devotees, mercilessly abandons those no longer able to perform, and mesmerizes the populace with mere spectacle. The worship of Footbaal (“games”) consists of ritualized combat and teaches values contrary to what the living God of heaven and earth wants his people to practice.

    • Jon

      Footbaal worship isn’t nearly as bad as kids playing Backmammon

      • Elijah the Tishbite


        • Jamie

          Jon is being cute. It’s a pun – like your Baal worship –

          Matthew 6:24

          No man can serve two masters: for either hewill hate the one, and love the other; or elsehe will hold to the one, and despise the other.Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

  • Rich in Duluth

    No. We discouraged interest in any team sports with our kids because the message of aggression, competition, and beating another team was not one we wanted our kids to have. Also, the anger and hostility we saw parents of even very young team members displaying was unhealthy and the risk of injury was unnecessary.

    There are many other ways to teach kids to work with and get along with others. There are many other ways to build strong bodies.

    While I understand that we are a social animal and need to congregate in groups with a group purpose in mind, I find the importance that people place on sports and sports figures to be excessive. Recent news has shown the fallibility of these “heros” and striving to be like these very popular people is not what I would encourage a young person to do.

    • Andreas Nettmayer

      I certainly understand that perspective. There is far too much social pressure to put players in sports above real contributors to society. As much as my son might admire Frank Ribbery or Lionel Messi for their soccer skills, I really hope he admires research scientists, engineers, and investigative journalists more.

  • Jon

    Book suggestions are more important

  • bob hicks

    No. Not a fan of legalized brutality. Lots of ways to get social value other than hacking and slashing other people. I like what Elijah said: Football really is akin to human sacrifice. Players don’t die usually (at least not right away), but they are almost sure to be maimed on a semi-regular basis.

  • Andreas Nettmayer

    If by football you mean Association Football, commonly called football all over the world and soccer in the US, then yes, I certainly would. Soccer is the global sport, hands down. The average player runs about three or four miles per game. It teaches skill and team work. The top performing players make hundreds of millions of dollars and are famous all over the world. CR7, Messi, Ribbery. Soccer is multicultural with the best teams and leagues in Europe and South America but increasingly so in Asia and the Middle East as well. There is certainly risk. Players can get seriously injured, but head trauma and obesity are not a part of the game the way they are in gridiron football.

    • Yanotha Twangai

      “Soccer” is the primary term also in Canada and is often used colloquially in English speaking countries outside the UK (like us calling basketball “hoops”).

    • >>Players can get seriously injured, but head trauma and obesity are not a part of the game the way they are in gridiron football.<<

      Oddly enough, concussion injuries are equally likely in soccer and football players.

      In 2011, Safe Kids Worldwide reported that 104,190 soccer players between ages 12 and 17 were seen in emergency rooms, with 13 percent of those injuries involving concussions. During that same time, there were 275,050 emergency room visits for football players between ages 12 and 17, with 13 percent involving concussions.

      • Andreas Nettmayer

        That’s very good info. What is the percentage of children who play each sport needing emergency room service overall?

  • Max

    I would encourage them to join the Vikings. They need the help.

  • “Encourage?” No. If they really wanted to play I would support their decision wholeheartedly and if that child happened to be my son or daughter, I would do my best to instill the values of “fair play” and “always try to do your best.” I’d stress the “proper” way to play the game and make sure the kid is having fun.

    Disclaimer – I was a youth sports coach for three sports I never played growing up: football, baseball, and basketball.

    /I played soccer, tennis, ran track in high school and played soccer and rugby in college
    //I started playing ice hockey at the age of 44 and am having a blast