Football is one of the most common sports in the U.S.A as well as across the world. However, in an article published in the New York Times on 31st January 2017, it seems that football poses certain health risks to players, particularly those who begin playing at younger ages. For this reason, U.S.A Football reported a decline in the number of young participants in football. This was linked not only to parental fears about the health risks but also to increasing awareness among the youths about the same. This story is interesting as well as informative and it is believed that it is relevant to parents and children who desire to play football. It informs the public that as the risks of playing tackle football at a young age have been identified, the national governing council for football in the U.S.A realizes that there is need to have more inclusive alternatives to the game. It is therefore important especially for parents to understand the implications of the suggestions made by the council and thus find ways of helping their children cope. The main objective in this essay is to enable parents and children realize that the national governing council also cares for the welfare of the youths and would like them to continue engaging in sports without having to face health risks in the long term.
In the conventional football game, there are usually 11 players on each side playing on a 22 yard field. The game while being played appears violent since it is characterized by actions such as tackles which bring together many players. Pile ups are also common among players during the tackles leading to high risks of injury. Head traumas are the most common injuries among football players. Despite efforts to ensure that such injuries were reduced through the use of personal protectives such as helmets, the rate of head trauma among football players is still significantly high. In the article by Belson, such injuries are linked to future outcomes such as drastic decline in brain functions. This decline is more prevalent among those who begin playing at young ages and continues as one grows to those who begin playing in high school and in colleges. Memory loss is part of the outcomes associated with the traumatic brain injuries that result from impacts during tackles on the football games. According to the article, parents have raised concerns about the effectiveness of the football game to their young children. It is also because of this that more parents continue to prevent their children from engaging in football games at younger ages.
Previous efforts made by U.S.A football included to recommend changes from tackling to modified tackles which involved fewer people. This was in an effort to eliminate the probability of children focusing on academics at the expense of sports. The executive director of U.S.A Football, Mr. Hallenback, suggested that this would not be the case as they intended to roll out new football tactics suitable for younger children. Some of the changes proposed include the reduction of the pitch size, reduction of the number of players to 6 on each side and the elimination of the tackle all together. In particular, starting the game is planned to be from a crouching position rather than from a three man tackle as is common in conventional football. Since most parents support these changes, the executive director as well as the U.S.A Football officials believes that this is the only way that football could be made suitable for younger children. Through this, the number of impacts could be reduced. Mr. Hallenback suggests that the rationale behind such actions include information that body sizes of children are increasing and so are their speeds in the pitch.
The story plays an important role in the field of sports in the U.S. It brings to light the happenings in football games and informs those who would wish to play football or for their children to play that there are implications to joining the game. At the same time, it also brings the commitment of the national governing council for football to the game as well as to the players by making the readers realize that they also value the health of the players. In a world where innovation is currently the trend in all aspects of life, the proposed changes to the game brings out a perception of flexibility and willingness to change with the times. Availability of information on the health impacts of football related injuries as presented in the story also aligns to the present times where technology provides exceptional access to information. The fact that these changes are happening as reported is an indication that the sports industry is willing to change with other aspects of the globalization. It can thus be concluded that these events, as depicted in the story could mean greater involvement not only in football but also in other sports that may be willing to change with the times. The lack of sustainability of the status quo is observed through the fact that despite initial changes, decline in the number of players continued.
Belson, Ken. ‘Not safe for children? Football’s leaders make drastic changes to youth game.’ The New York Times, 31 January 2017.