Recent comments from Kurt Warner and the reactions thereto have created a new cottage industry for the NFL media: Stories regarding whether people connected to the sport want their sons to play it.
Count Jets coach Rex Ryan among those who aren’t shying away, even though his son has suffered a concussion while playing in high school.
Per the Associated Press, Ryan said Saturday that he “absolutely” would like his son to keep playing.
“That’s part of it,” Ryan said regarding his son’s concussion. “But, you know, I mean, we are so much further along now.”
And so different parents will continue to strike the balance between the risks and rewards of football in their own ways.
“Obviously, you have concerns when that happens, but it’s just one of those things, an unfortunate part of the game,” Ryan said. “It does happen occasionally, but I truly think everybody’s working to try to get this thing minimized. We’ve got to protect our players, protect our athletes, without question. I think we’ve tried to do that with the helmets, with the way the trainers are and everything else.”
It’s critical for the advances made at the NFL level to trickle down to the lower levels of the sport. Many assume this will happen automatically. But a culture change is needed across the board, and that may be harder to accomplish where football is played with less scrutiny and oversight. When an NFL player re-enters a game after suffering an apparent concussion, everyone sees it — and the media can point it out, loudly. When a player at a small high school in a rural state re-enters a game after suffering an apparent concussion, there’s a chance no one will notice — or that anyone who does will have no practical avenue for ensuring that the coach keeps the kid out of the game.
That’s why it’s critical that the Lystedt Law pass in every state, and that every parent be willing to intervene when a coach who is obsessed with winning and who isn’t sufficiently sensitive to the realities of concussions puts a kid back in the game if he simply can remember the answer to the “how many fingers?” question (i.e., two) after getting his “bell rung.”