The state of California recently instituted a new set of regulations concerning high school football and the staggering statistics now becoming available from the long-term effects of concussions and concussion related injuries.
The new law limits the amount of time the team is allowed to have full contact practices. The result has been a mixed reception at best and similar legislation should be expected across the country as a result. With class action lawsuits concerning the NFL and the horror stories of damage manifesting itself years later, it could be assumed the response from parents, coaches, fans and the general public would be positive.
Instead there has been a growing outcry against the new law, leaving one unsure of what the priorities are in a situation such as this.
Shouldn’t the safety, health and well-being of those young men take precedence over the entertainment itself? Or has the fascination Americans have with entertainers and athletes gotten so out of control that good judgment has been tossed by the wayside?
Football in the South isn’t just a sport and the geographical area certainly isn’t as liberal as California. With those two facts placed side by side, it would seem the passage of a similar bill in South Carolina or Alabama would be a stretch.
But is that a good thing?
As a rule, football is a religion of its own in the Palmetto State and it seems unimaginable those Friday nights in the fall would be devoid of high schoolers charging up and down the field with reckless abandon feeling almost guaranteed of their invincibility.
But the long term effects must be considered.
The fact is a very small percentage of those kids on Friday nights will ever suit up for a Saturday kickoff and the odds of playing on Sundays are even more exponentially remote. As a result, shouldn’t the focus and concern be on the long term health of these young men?
When something such as football has become an institution in a culture such as our own, it’s difficult to separate the entertainment from the real-life consequences. Grown men who played the game competitively in their youths, not to generalize or stereotype, love to recount the harshness of it all. They seem to relish the “war wounds” years later while relating the details of a game long forgotten. For younger listeners or observers, it seems glorious.
Today’s kids are bigger, stronger and faster than the generations that came before, upping the ante on the controlled violence of the game. Factor in these changes and the chances of long-term injuries — brain or otherwise — increase, making it a logical step to reduce the amount of physical abuse these teenagers are subject to.
Instead there is a growing public outcry against limiting full contact practices intended to reduce injuries and protect the kids. Coaches and parents have stated in interviews how important those practices are in preparation for the next game, using the usual platitudes of toughening up the players for the competition.
There have even been some who have complained because their fear is the product on the field won’t be as competitive and the athletes who would be deserving of scholarships to play at the college level would be left out in the cold.
It seems to make more sense to have some of these players go on to become healthy adults without chronic pain, headaches, or memory loss over averaging 10 tackles per game. And who knows, these changes are going to slowly make their way into other states, and may result in higher aspirations other than being a thousand yard rusher.