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Arians, Mathieu have strongly different views on kids playing football

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Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is one of my favorite people in football because he always speaks his mind. Cardinals cornerback Tyrann Mathieu is one of my favorite people in football because he always speaks his mind. One on of the media’s favorite football topics when there’s no real football to talk about, Arians and Mathieu have each spoken their mind — and their views sharply conflict.

Speaking to Peter King of TheMMQB.com at the Wednesday NFC coaches breakfast held in conjunction with the annual league meetings, Arians addressed the topic of kids playing football.

“It’s the greatest game in the world. I think it teaches more values than any other game that you play. Toughness, get up and fight when you have things that happen in your life that aren’t gonna be good. If you play football, you know how to handle them,” Arians said. “We have this fear of concussions that is real but not all of those I think statistics can prove anything. . . . There are more concussions in girl’s soccer than in football at that age. The No. 2 sport with concussions is women’s soccer, but no one says, ‘We’ve gotta stop playing soccer,’ all right? Same thing with knee injuries. There are more knee injuries at eight to 12 in soccer than football. You can find all the statistics you want if you want to crucify something. Our game is great. People that say ‘I won’t let my son play it’ are fools.”

Mathieu is one of those fools, apparently. He posted the following message on Twitter, deleted it, then retweeted Mike Freeman’s quote of the deleted tweet: “My children won’t [play football]. Too much on the body at such young ages. They can play in [high school]. If they want.”

In a separate, non-deleted tweet, Mathieu says this: “Football has taught me so many lessons. . . . I’ve learned to be coachable, accept losing, work with others, teaches you how to work.” Still, Mathieu’s position that his kids won’t play until high school puts him directly within the range of people that Arians regards as “fools.”

Both guys, and anyone else who chimes in on the topic, are entitled to their opinions. It remains unusual, as Arians points out, that football is the only contact sport that has become the focal point of parental consternation. As Jay Glazer of FOX Sports explained in a recent podcast with Bill Simmons, a mother recently brought her son to Glazer’s gym in L.A. and said that she wanted to get the boy involved in a sport like mixed martial arts because it’s “safer than football.”

The fact that anyone would believe that MMA is under any circumstances safer than football proves that there’s an ongoing battle for the hearts and minds of moms and dads throughout the country — and that football is losing. Badly.

Directing Trump-style tough talk toward those who choose not to let their kids play football may not be the best way to turn the tide (then again . . .). Still, comments from guys like Arians, coupled with the recent passionate defense of football from Ravens coach John Harbaugh, shows that football coaches may start taking a more football-coach approach to the debate.

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32 Responses to “Arians, Mathieu have strongly different views on kids playing football”
  1. jjb0811 says: Mar 25, 2016 2:26 PM

    Gymnastics and cheerleading have even higher knee related injuries.

  2. kolbe213 says: Mar 25, 2016 2:35 PM

    I think Arians meant to say golf teaches you …

    There are so many countless examples of football players who haven’t learned anything about life and how to deal with, ironically, failure or success.

    He and the poster above are right though, soccer an cheerleading need WAY more scrutiny.

  3. steelerben says: Mar 25, 2016 2:39 PM

    If your children have interest in playing football, then starting them early in a program that teaches proper form and safety can help them develop instincts that help them play more safely for as long as they play.

    It all depends on how your local programs are. If there are solid coaches that are teaching the kids to come out of the game if they think they might be hurt, that are teaching proper tackling technique, and are teaching sportsmanship, then it could very much benefit your child. If your local program is filled with yahoos that think kids need to “toughen up” and will shame them for being injured, then keep them away from it (and report them to the body that governs them).

  4. ruthlessburgher says: Mar 25, 2016 2:39 PM

    “A mother recently brought her son to Glazer’s gym in L.A. and said that she wanted to get the boy involved in a sport like mixed martial arts because it’s ‘safer than football.’”

    I think that mom got one too many concussions of her own while playing women’s soccer.

  5. cheeks9441 says: Mar 25, 2016 2:42 PM

    I think football is relatively safe if you’re a relatively normal sized person playing with other relatively normal sized people. (Even above average-sized people isn’t too dangerous.) But when you start playing a collision sport with guys who are 6-4, 290 lbs and 6-6, 320 lbs, that’s when things really get dangerous, in my opinion.

  6. logicalvoicepft says: Mar 25, 2016 2:47 PM

    Boys play Soccer.
    Men play Football.
    Point Blank.

  7. themattstapiece says: Mar 25, 2016 2:50 PM

    Arians is welcome to his passion for how great football is and how it can teach lessons. All sports do that, and team sports in particular I think can play a very positive role in anyone’s development. It’s true that there are concussions and other injuries in other sports, and head trauma in particular should continue to be studied.

    However the suggestion that football players are better able to handle what life throws at them than the rest of the population is laughably ridiculous and delusional. “If you’ve played football, you know how to handle them”. Come on, dude.

  8. simplegodfather says: Mar 25, 2016 2:58 PM

    Playing defense positions has less chance of getting CTE than playing offense positions; It depends how you tackles, with your head or shoulder.. If you do shoulder tackles all the way, then you have less chance having CTE.. for the Offense positions, its enviable.

  9. Wisconsin's Favorite Son Jeffrey Be Dahmed says: Mar 25, 2016 3:08 PM

    Kids prefer video games here.

  10. 12444uggg says: Mar 25, 2016 3:09 PM

    The only time most people will be able to play football is when they’re kids and it’s easy to bounce off the ground.

  11. crik911 says: Mar 25, 2016 3:26 PM

    cheeks9441 says:
    Mar 25, 2016 2:42 PM
    I think football is relatively safe if you’re a relatively normal sized person playing with other relatively normal sized people. (Even above average-sized people isn’t too dangerous.) But when you start playing a collision sport with guys who are 6-4, 290 lbs and 6-6, 320 lbs, that’s when things really get dangerous, in my opinion.

    ————

    Was thinking the exact same thing. They are the biggest and strongest people that play the sport. Huge collisions happen at each level but NCAA/NFL would be the most damaging of course.

  12. rcali says: Mar 25, 2016 3:52 PM

    I do often why soccer moms let their kids play that dangerous sport. The data is there but when a sport doesn’t move the dial, I guess the truth gets hidden.

  13. wallabear says: Mar 25, 2016 4:11 PM

    For Coach Arians and Mister (Jerry) Jones to profess that there is no link or effect of CTE on football players is just Irresponsible (with a capital “I”). Arians, dude, just go fishing or whatever you do in the off-season. Better yet, find yaBoy Carson Palmer a head shrink (e.g., Sports Psychologist) to help him learn how to become a post-season winner hahaha

  14. whodey1982 says: Mar 25, 2016 4:25 PM

    Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is one of my favorite people in football because … He was once a coach for the Steelers…

  15. riderspantherssk says: Mar 25, 2016 4:28 PM

    I can’t help but look sideways when guys who have what they have in life because of football say that they wouldn’t let others play football. It’s easy to close the door behind you, but if someone had closed the door in front of Tyrann Mathieu he’d be sitting on a couch in a basement in Louisiana getting high and playing video games…

  16. ReligionIsForIdiots says: Mar 25, 2016 4:29 PM

    jjb0811 says:
    Mar 25, 2016 2:26 PM
    Gymnastics and cheerleading have even higher knee related injuries.
    ——–

    Neither of which will turn you into a vegetable by 45.

  17. cobrala2 says: Mar 25, 2016 4:53 PM

    Arians is a pompous blowhard.

  18. wringworm says: Mar 25, 2016 4:59 PM

    if the NFL would just start by forcing defensive players to WRAP UP during tackles vs launching their bodies as projectiles then things would start to change. Once the high school years kick in and the boys hone that fast twitch muscle its all over if they think a tackle is about being a human bowling ball.

    I’m not sure coach Arians is an expert in the field of women’s soccer, but the fact that the NFL teams have barely reported proper concussion counts makes him at best, a hypocrite. He should know statistics in sports are now openly subjective when it comes to cause and effect

  19. dansardo says: Mar 25, 2016 5:08 PM

    Ariens is one of the colorful people in the “no fun league” I think he is great. That said, what he said about parents not letting their kids play football is about as boneheaded as you can possibly can get. He could have just said that he believed the benefits of the sport outweighs the risks. He could have said that HE feels that HE doesn’t have a problem with HIS kids playing because the benefits outweigh the risks. BUT he just needs to shut his stupid pie hole about decision OTHER parents make concerning his kid. He isn’t a doctor or has ANY qualifications to tell ANYONE what they should or should not do to protect their kids. I really like the guy but, obviously the dumb scaly cap he was wearing the day he made that comment about other parents decisions was way too tight. Hopefully he slept it off and sobered up by now.

  20. mlander12 says: Mar 25, 2016 5:26 PM

    If I were to have a kid I think I’d have them skip football and most other sports other than maybe baseball until they hit high-school, even then I’d prefer they skip freshman year. If they did have some interest I’d be happy to bring them to the various events and maybe summer camps and the like, maybe even hire a coach over summers.

    The way I see it these sports have an accumulative effect on the body and brain, so why risk the early injuries for peewee games. Leave a little more tread on the tires for later in life when they’ll be able really think about the game better than 8-12 year old kids can.

  21. kvnhlstd says: Mar 25, 2016 5:28 PM

    Boys play Soccer.
    Men play Football.
    Point Blank.
    ___________________________________

    Boys play sports, Men join the Military.

  22. deebo61 says: Mar 25, 2016 5:57 PM

    simplegodfather says:
    Mar 25, 2016 2:58 PM

    Playing defense positions has less chance of getting CTE than playing offense positions; It depends how you tackles, with your head or shoulder.. If you do shoulder tackles all the way, then you have less chance having CTE.. for the Offense positions, its enviable.

    I don’t think CTE is enviable in any way, shape or form.

  23. themattstapiece says: Mar 25, 2016 6:04 PM

    kvnhlstd says:
    Mar 25, 2016 5:28 PM
    Boys play Soccer.
    Men play Football.
    Point Blank.
    ___________________________________

    Boys play sports, Men join the Military.

    ——————————-

    Both of the above points are really stupid.

    Nevermind the fact that women also join the military and that men all over the world play soccer – statements like these just come off as insecure.

  24. mogogo1 says: Mar 25, 2016 6:36 PM

    “I think it teaches more values than any other game that you play. ”
    ________

    Steady there, Bruce. I’m a huge believer in the lessons sports teach but get real. They all teach the exact same things. There’s a difference in what you learn between team and individual sports but football doesn’t magically teach you anything different than hockey, basketball, soccer or any other team sport.

  25. mw006 says: Mar 25, 2016 6:52 PM

    Both are right. Matthews is right kids should wait until they are at least 13 or 14 before beginning to play organized tackle football but Ariens is also right and good for him to punch back at this highly selective, organized assault on football to the neglect of the risks posed by playing other sports. Funny, auto fatalities are by far the greatest danger to youth but nobody is willing propose raising the legal driving age.

    Unfortunately, the NFL, at least under the leadership of Goodell, won’t counter with the facts. It will raise its finger to see which way the media wind is blowing and bow and scrape accordingly.

  26. joerymi says: Mar 25, 2016 7:03 PM

    The dangers of second-hand smoke have really only been universally acknowledged as a tremendous health risk within the past decade.

    Not even worth arguing with Arians because it is a matter of time before his view becomes has arcane as the downplaying of dangerous of smoking and second-hand smoking.

    There is much to learn about CTE, concussions, ect. But to pretend that girls soccer is the equivalent to men playing football for a decade plus (much more if talented enough to play in college and pros). You have to deny science AND deny the countless examples of former players being destroyed mentally.

    Youth football is steadily declining and the NFL doesn’t have the legitimacy to argue science. It will continue.

  27. billbrasky72 says: Mar 25, 2016 7:29 PM

    My friends and I raced motocross when I was a kid. Football is about as dangerous as shuffleboard in comparison.

  28. manderson4150 says: Mar 25, 2016 7:30 PM

    Arians support of Mathieu will bite him in his arsp.

  29. jjb0811 says: Mar 25, 2016 8:42 PM

    ReligionIsForIdiots says:
    Mar 25, 2016 4:29 PM
    jjb0811 says:
    Mar 25, 2016 2:26 PM
    Gymnastics and cheerleading have even higher knee related injuries.
    ——–

    Neither of which will turn you into a vegetable by 45.
    _________________________________

    Then why are you reading PFT?

  30. clssylssy says: Mar 25, 2016 10:18 PM

    These days football players at all levels wear more protective gear of higher quality than any other sport than maybe ice hockey. All team sports teach valuable life lessons about social interaction, accepting disappointment and working as a group toward attainment of a common goal. If you are worried about injury at a formative age, then have your kid take ballet to learn timing, footwork , and body control while building strength and muscle . Head injuries can happen outside of sports but the NFL has created an over reaction and public hysteria because they are now having to pay out some big bucks unlike other professional sports. In reality, gymnastics, cheerleading and diving are more dangerous than football.

  31. bada2016 says: Mar 26, 2016 2:14 AM

    If you. R looking for sports to teach your children any kind of lessons by waiting until high school then good luck.

  32. vtempire says: Mar 27, 2016 2:36 PM

    Why are we surprised that a Football coach defends playing football or say what he said? If kids stop playing football, people like him or in his position will soon be all out of jobs!
    IMO playing any sports in school is absolutely better than having too much time to be drawn to drugs and other harmful things that surrounds the kids now a days. If parents don’t want their kids playing football, they better make sure they are on the same page with their kids! If your kid has the physical and mental attributes to compete with his peers it’s a shame not to allow him to do that.

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