Polamalu, Foote think kids should play football


Three weeks ago, I desperately wanted a break from all the stories about whether kids should play football.  Now, I desperately want a break from all the stories about the back-to-the-future toxic relationship between the NFL and the NFLPA.

And, of course, the respite comes via another story about whether kids should play football.

But this one goes the other way.  It’s not about why kids shouldn’t play football.  It’s about why kids should play football.

Steelers safety Troy Polamalu had this to say on the subject, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:  “Absolutely.  You face so many different adversities.  You deal with so much emotionally, but what makes this sport unique is that you can deal with a lot physically.  You face guys that are bigger, stronger and faster than you.  You can be physically dominated, but you still have to get up and fight.  That’s a type of thing you can’t learn anywhere else, especially not in any other sport.”

Teammate Larry Foote agrees.  “Yes, because they’re just starting to scratch the surface of making the game safer — and they are trying,” Foote said, perhaps not recognizing the irony in his remarks regarding safety, given that his teammates consistently complain about efforts to make the game safer.  “My son isn’t going to be skateboarding or any X-Games type of activities.  The way I feel about that stuff is the way some people feel about football, that it isn’t safe.  But I know how football challenges you every day, how you learn discipline and control.  Once you start learning those things you can apply them to anything, including studying and especially life.”

Of course, the same could be said of skateboarding or X-Games activities, or plenty of other sports or endeavors that entail physical exertion and, in turn, physical risk.

Polamalu acknowledges that everyone may assess those risks differently.  “I don’t know if parents should feel comfortable [letting kids play football], to be honest,” Polamalu said.  “It’s not the responsibility of the game to make anybody feel comfortable.”

The question is how much risk — and in turn discomfort — will be tolerated by a parent, or by the child once the child is old enough to make his or her own decision.  It’s unclear where the line is.  But for most parents it still resides somewhere between playing football and re-enacting scenes from the Jackass movies.

17 responses to “Polamalu, Foote think kids should play football

  1. If youth tackle football was a stock, it would be tanking faster than Facebook.

    Youth flag football is the way of the future. It will grow 10 fold over the next few years.

  2. The proof will be in the pudding. Enrollment in youth football programs is down, and has been trending downward for many years now.

    It appears there are more challenges to Football than just safety concerns, though. School budgets are being challenged, and I know in our area there are now “Play to Participate” programs, that mean Parents have to pay for the costs of the Football program.

    Add it all up, and the game is being challenged, at a time when it’s at it’s zenith of popularity. It’ll be another generation before we truly know what the effects are, but suffice as to say, there will always be those willing to take the risk. Or, in the case of kids, have Parents who are willing to let their kids take risks that the kids themselves are too young to fully appreciate.

    For the record: I don’t have Sons, so I won’t have to make that decision (I played some football, and loved every minute of it).

  3. Look they are finally trying to do something to lessen the head injuries. Myself I don’t think it should be the recent suicides that bring these injuries to the for front. A head injury certainly may have something to do with it but don’t ya think that depression is the culprit here also. This seems to be happening near within 5 years of retirement. It’s difficult for the normal working person when we retire and I can’t even begin to understand the difficulty for a football player with the only lifestyle they’ve ever known at that young age being taken away from them. I think the NFL or every team ought to prepare these guys for that.

  4. my thing always is if your son wants to play football let dem. its better for them to be active in a contct sport than following the streets activity (politically speaking) which leads to destruction

  5. For me I always felt that football has taught me a ton of life lessons such as working hard, teamwork, how to win, how to cope with a loss, sportsmanship, and it kept me focused in school to get good grades and the friends I’ve made through football will last forever….I know that applies to any sport but I was passionate about football so that’s what I played and if a kid is passionate about something it seems wrong to curb that enthusiasm…

  6. There’s a line in Winter’s Tale I always liked, about how NYC firemen loved fire – for although it sometimes killed them it gave them priceless gifts. The same is true of football.

  7. I don’t see an inconsistency between Foote noting they’re just embarking on making the game safer and the Steelers resisting neutering the defense.

    It’s possible to make the game safer by taking advantage of new helmet technology–without significantly altering the way defense is played. Many of the recent rule changes have more to do with an effort to increase scoring to draw more casual/fantasy viewers than with improving safety.

    The game is at the height of its popularity and profit. It may be costly, but at some point, those raking in the cash will incorporate the equipment, necessary to their long-term survival.

  8. “Foote said, perhaps not recognizing the irony in his remarks regarding safety, given that his teammates consistently complain about efforts to make the game safer. ”

    What the teammates are actually complaining about is the fact that illegal helmet to helmet hits clearly happen probably a dozen times per game–yet for some reason, only a handful of players (like James Harrison) are being punished.

    How many times has a player been fined for hitting Roethlisberger late and in the head?

    It’s all about consistency. The NFL just isn’t consistent and that why the Steelers complain.

    They’re not complaining about efforts to make the game safer; they’re complaining about the fact that it’s legal to hit Roethlisberger late.

  9. I think its ridiculous that parents would prevent their kids from doing anything contrustive and team-oriented because of the potential risks involved! What you are basically saying is that if its difficult and dangerous and you may get hurt, just don’t do it!!
    Life is difficult and dangerous and you just might get hurt (you are definitely going to die)!! But is that a reason to stop living!!
    Way to continue with the wussification of America, parents!!

  10. Having played both football and X-Games (skate boarding, bmx, rollerblades) I can tell you that the injuries from xgames are WAY worse. Just youtube for the evidence. In X-games you have no control once you biff. You never know if you just going to lose skin, rip a knee, break an ankle in half (and i literally mean in half), lose teeth, get a concussion and then there are special male injuries that are too disgusting to describe. I actually quit skateboarding after a gnarly knee injury (I admit it, I was scared to get back on the board). In football, if you are TAUGHT THE GAME PROPERLY, you can protect yourself and play in way that is both brutal and safe.

    HOWEVER, as I get older I do worry about brain trauma. I had 2 bad concussion and kept play while in highschool and of course saw stars almost every game. In college, they definitely hit harder, but different. Lost my breath more than saw stars, players seemed to hit more in the body than the head.

    I will never truly know what the impact of regular hits (even small ones) to the head will do to me until im older. I don’t have any answers or suggestions, that was just my experience. I will end this with saying, all sports are risks. You either live life and enjoy it as much as you can or you stay home and play video games and pretend to play football, skate, shoot, etc.

  11. This palomula is an idiot! yeah its just a game, but not to risk your life for a neck and brain injury. Yes teach your children exercise, but teach them its just a game, thats all. nothing more. Something to kill time over when your are bored. Do something more constructive than FOOTBALL. Geesus man what are you thinking! Football is a sport yes, but only a GAME! its not life, its just a boring game. learning a trade many trades is life its help you later on in yours.

  12. Davo says:
    May 25, 2012 11:00 AM

    It appears there are more challenges to Football than just safety concerns, though. School budgets are being challenged, and I know in our area there are now “Play to Participate” programs, that mean Parents have to pay for the costs of the Football program.


    This is significantly more attributed to state budget problems than “safety”.

    Even when I was in H.S. (in the 1980s), there was a move towards soccer, etc. because of the risk of injury. It just didn’t receive the same hype it does now. I’ve met parents for years that are fearful of their kids playing football – the kids want to play anyway and they will.

    The Simpsons used to poke fun at this “Will someone please think about the children”. Heck, parents don’t even want their kids to watch Wile E. Coyote chase the Road Runner or the 3 Stooges because of “violence” (as if that will change them as adults).

    Football is going nowhere – because it generates revenue.

    For the record, Flag Football runs a lot of risk to play too – I’ve been in leagues and seen knees shredded and some ugly collisions. This safety move is going overboard, success in life requires risk of some extent – and playing it “safe” only guarantees you will finish exactly where you started.

  13. Polamalu is an idiot. But Foote is a bigger idiot. WTF? He’s thinks skate boarding is dangerous and football is not? I’ll grant you some of the X Games are very dangerous. But I’ll bet you that playing in the NFL carries a much higher risk for long term damage/injury. What they are talking about learning from football, isn’t learned from football, it’s learned from being part of a team. Which most people learn every day by being part of team at work. I don’t think any of these lessons apply to wanting to hurt people.

  14. Who in their right mind listens to Polamalu anyways?

    He thinks it’s okay for a man to sport a woman’s hairdo, too.

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