Jon Gruden Likens Increased Safety In Youth Football To Eliminating Recess
The New York Times published a piece on Tuesday covering the annual USA Football convention in Orlando. There gathered leaders and influences in the world of football to discuss a new format of the game that they are trying at the youth level, which is intended to increase safety and abate the growing concerns of parents and former players across the nation.
The new format is called 'modified tackle' and it's described in the article as follows:
"[The new format] brings the game closer to flag football and tries to avoid much of the violence in the current version. Among the rule changes: Each team will have six to nine players on the field, instead of 11; the field will be far smaller; kickoffs and punts will be eliminated; and players will start each play in a crouching position instead of in a three-point stance." (via NYTimes.com)
Later in the piece, author Ken Belson points out that unlike sports that feature a gradual progression from the youth to adult version of the sport, tackle football was really pretty much the same across the board. So this new format offers nervous parents an alternative, and presents the opportunity to ease youths into the violent game.
“There are, legitimately, concerns among parents about allowing their kids to play tackle football at a young age,” said Green Bay Packers President and USA Football board member, Mark Murphy, “so they can look at this and say they’ll be more comfortable that it is a safer alternative.”
However there will always be the football purists; those who believe that by easing children and their still-developing brains into a game in which they risk head injury on every snap, the game itself will be reduced to dust.
Enter former NFL head coach and current 'Monday Night Football' color commentator Jon Gruden:
"There are a lot of geniuses out there that are diminishing football right now,” said Gruden. "There are a lot of geniuses that are trying to damage the game, and ruin the game. Do you feel it? There are a lot of geniuses that want to eliminate all sports, including recess."
"Not on my watch, and clap your hands if you’re with me on that," he added, to loud applause. (via NYTimes.com)
The idea that parents and educators are out there trying to destroy the sport of football is as preposterous as any of the other ridiculous crap that Gruden spews on a daily basis. By all accounts, this is not an attempt to subvert the football establishment and take down the NFL; it's merely an attempt to minimize future life-threatening conditions by guiding children and young adults into the game the way that many other sports do.
Paul Macklin II, who helps to run recreation programs in Norfolk, VA, pointed out that kids are so athletic and strong at such a young age now that this is just a way to slow things down a bit as they learn how to protect their bodies as best as possible once they begin to play the adult version of the game.
"The games are getting a lot faster and kids are getting bigger, so they need to modify the game so parents feel it’s safe,” said Macklin II. “We have to come up with new ideas." (via NYTimes.com)
If grown men with the opportunity to make millions want to put their health and future at risk in order to play football, then that is their prerogative. But children playing recreational youth football really don't need to be bashing their heads together just because Jon Gruden is afraid that a safer version of the game will lead to the elimination of all sports entirely.
THIS GUY is walking, talking hyperbole.
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