Sports

Useful Information About Youth Football

In case you missed it, last week I raised the issue of what kinds of questions parents should ask in the wake of Junior Seau’s suicide. Namely, should parents be concerned about their youngsters playing football? That brought a thoughtful response from Terry Hyde, president of Clark County Youth Football.

I appreciate Terry taking the time to write, and I think he raises some good points and shares some good information about the types of training that coaches undergo. Here’s his letter:

Greg,
In your article on May 6th, 2012 you asked what’s a parent to do?  After reading your article and many others, I was compelled to respond. We must not make the comparison of youth football to what has currently transpired to some NFL players.

Comparing youth football to the NFL is comparing apples and oranges. As we all know, NFL players are the most gifted athletes within the sport playing at the highest level. Youth players are being introduced to the game.

There has been a lot of talk in the news recently about football and concussions. As a youth and high school football coach for the last 30 years, I can tell you that awareness and education around this issue has never been better, and now is the safest time to introduce young people to the sport of football.

This is happening in Clark County Youth Football, (CCYF). CCYF works with USA Football, the national governing body of the sport, to ensure that every coach receives Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-approved instruction about concussions – as well as proper fundamental techniques, equipment fitting, hydration and heat preparedness – before they can teach our children.

Football is a contact sport, but leagues such as ours (CCYF) that emphasize health and safety along with teaching sound football fundamentals to make football a better, safer game. Hundreds of youth leagues across the country are embracing this attitudinal change toward concussion, and the ones that aren’t should.  As you know, three years ago, Washington passed the first state law to define how coaches must be educated and how to approach a player who shows signs of a concussion. Put simply: When in doubt, sit them out. Since then, 34 other states and Washington, D.C., have passed similar laws.

No sport or activity is risk-free, and every sport can be made safer and better for our kids. Thankfully, this is happening. We have taken significant steps forward in how we treat head trauma – in all sports, not just football – but more needs to be done.

Whether a child is playing football, soccer, basketball, baseball, whatever, parents need to ask their leagues: How are your coaches trained to properly teach this game to my child and what kind of training have they undergone regarding concussion education and management?

If you don’t like the answers, find a league that is doing it better or visit www.usafootball.com to see how you can make your child’s experience the best it can be.

So, to answer your question “what’s a parent to do?” The answer is allowing your child the opportunity to experience as many sports as possible and be an involved parent, and insist that your child is being taught safe sound fundamentals’ of the game.

Terry Hyde, President
Clark County Youth Football