Let’s be honest. We all hate that government is taking a position on football. Concussions in football is becoming so serious that our government is bringing up legislation. CTE is a real thing.
But here’s the bottom line coaches. We are the reason this is happening.
Yep. Us. It’s not government’s fault. It’s our fault.
Whenever a coach let’s bad fundamentals slip because the player is a skilled athlete, that’s us making a mistake.
Whenever we get made that a trainer takes a kid out because of concussion like symptoms, that’s us making a mistake.
Whenever we let our kid’s lead with their head in-order to enhance a block or tackle, that’s us making a mistake.
I am very against any legislation in football. But when something consistently shows the inability to govern itself, government steps in. It does. That’s a fact of life. You might say it hasn’t stepped into women’s soccer or cheerleading, but that’s because it’s not a “big issue” yet. Big issue is defined by the public. Concussions in footbaIl is now a big public topic. If there is enough public outcry, fear, or anger, some politicians jump on the bandwagon to make a change. And let’s be honest, limiting hitting to one hour a week is a result of us letting kids have bad technique, or us not coaching coaches who allow bad technique to happen.
At some point, for many coaches, they will likely have 15 minutes to teach blocking. Then 15 minutes to teach tackling. Then they’ll have about 30 minutes for team scrimmaging. If your players only play one way, you’ll be at less of a disadvantage, you’ll get half an hour to teach tackling, then half an hour for team. Then that’s it for the entire week. Don’t believe me, check out this football bill originating in Texas. Similar stuff is being asked in other states, like Illinois.
I don’t know about you, but with somewhere between maybe 2-3 hours of teaching proper blocking or tackling technique before a game, there is no way I’m letting the average first year player touch the field. You can conceptually teach techniques, but without much time for half speed contact to teach it properly before full speed contact, it’s not going to be engrained in muscle memory.
I don’t have kids. Let me start by saying that. My kids, when I have them, if they want, will be allowed to play football. But I will be watching the youth coaches (if not coaching them myself) unless youth football doesn’t exist in 10-15 years. If it doesn’t, I will be watching the high school coaches like hawks. I’ve seen enough bad coaches when it comes to technique in my time that I don’t trust a coach at first glance.
What’s funny, I think a lot of coaches feel the same way. Maybe they won’t be a bad parent, but they want to make sure their kids are taught safe technique. Unlike arguing whether the skip pull or the traditional pull is a better technique, safety is something that strikes the heart of all parents, and it should for coaches as well. If you want to teach my kids to skip pull, that’s fine (even though it’s not my favorite pulling technique), however I will be giving a call if you let my kid learn to duck his head when making a block or tackle.
Does that seem bad? I hope not. But you know what? That’s what government is trying to do. Government doesn’t have the resources to watch you like a hawk. But they can enforce rules on you if they don’t think something’s being done to the public’s liking.
So here’s my challenge coaches. We need to clean up our act. Or, if you see bad technique being taught by another assistant, it’s time to have a chat. CTE is real. Concussions are real. Unless we fix it soon, we will be limited to one hour a week of hitting, or we’ll be trying to compromise for just two. It’s in our hands. So stop complaining at spring and summer practice about the rules or how we’re making this a weaker sport. We did this because we were lazy or let bad coaching happen.
And if you’re worried that your win loss record may suffer or that the parents or even the kids might be mad you made “Johnny”, who is clearly your top player or even has potential to be a top recruit, sit on the bench rather than start, just tell them the truth. Tell them that Johnny refuses to use safe practice technique. The other athletes understand it, so something is being taught right, he just refuses. And until that is fixed (and you must keep trying), he will keep riding the bench. You know what will probably take the hardest convincing out of those 3 parties (parents, kids, your win/loss record)? It’s probably YOUR win/loss record. When I started using that process, that’s what scared me the most. I had parents actually thank me. The kids understood. I took the most convincing, and that was wrong.
Concussions in football is a real thing. Soon congress getting involved in football will be a real thing too unless we start doing something about it in practice.