For most people February 6, 2013 was probably just another day. For me and many other big sports fans, February 6, 2013 was akin to a holiday. It was National Letter of Intent Day for the college football fans of the world. It is the day when kids who grow up dreaming of playing in the NFL, take their first major step towards that dream by signing to play football for various colleges across the country. For other kids, it’s their chance to get an education, which hopefully results in a meaningful career later on in life.
Interest in football recruiting has picked up significantly over the past few years. There are websites that are entirely devoted to recruiting news. These websites follow 17- and 18-year-old kids as they go through the recruiting process. And as many of us probably know, kids this age can be pretty creative in the decision making process. For instance, one high school student verbally committed to the University of Alabama only to later de-commit from Alabama and verbally commit to Auburn. When announcing his decision to attend Auburn at a big ceremony, he uncovered a new tattoo on his forearm of Auburn’s logo. A few months later the kid again changed his mind and decided to go to Alabama — Auburn tattoo and all.
I think one thing about National Letter of Intent Day shows is that the popularity of football isn’t waning despite rising health concerns for those who play the sport. President Obama recently stated that he would have to think “long and hard” about whether he would allow his son to play football. The comment seemed to permeate throughout the pregame talk leading up to this year’s Super Bowl.
Yet, despite the concerns for the players’ health, football seems to be more popular than ever. Kids are flocking to play football and the sport’s popularity seems to be at an all-time high.
I understand the President’s concern, but I’m not sure it should be as much of a concern as it is being made out to be.
In my experience there are two different types of kids who play football. There are those who love playing football but understand that bashing one’s head into a moving object that happens to be running full speed directly at you in order to prevent that moving object from gaining an extra six inches isn’t quite worth the headache that would follow. That’s the category I used to fit in — most of the time. Then there are those who love playing football and love to play football with reckless abandon. They play to punish their opponent through hits.
I’m sure there are upgrades that can be made to the equipment to make football safer and I think those upgrades should be made if possible, but I think if parents and fans were a little better at teaching kids that football is a game and that the health of your brain is far more important than any football game, maybe more kids would approach the game in a healthier manner. The game doesn’t have to be played with reckless abandon in order for it to be entertaining. Kids can use proper tackling technique and still be good players.
So while many people are professing that they will not let their kids play the sport, I’m hopeful that parents and fans will step up and relay the importance of playing smart and help save the game that I love.
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