FanDuel - WFBC

November 14, 2013

Together We Fear Football: Pop Warner Down 9.5%: Pop Warner football, the largest youth football program in the U.S., saw the number of players drop 9.5 percent from 2010 to 2012, a sign that the rise in severely debilitating brain injuries among former pro football players is scaring parents away from the sport. The organization's chief medical officer, Julian Bailes, called concerns about head injuries the "No. 1 cause" for the drop and said, "Unless we deal with these truths, we're not going to get past the dropping popularity of the sport and people dropping out of the sport."

posted by rcade to football at 11:20 AM - 16 comments

Have to say, I was very disappointed and concerned a few months ago when my sister told me her eight year old son had signed up for full contact/pads and helmet football.

posted by billsaysthis at 11:55 AM on November 14

I quit Pop Warner 2 years in after the 2nd consecutive coach turned out to be into doing stuff like making you complete your windsprints prior to drinking water in 100+ degree heat and having all of the small kids do one on one hitting/tackling drills with the one kid who was sized like a grown man already. I got the sense that this was pretty much the norm throughout all of the leagues I could've played in and was done with it. This was the 90s and it's hard for me to imagine the culture has changed much. It's not as if the hazards of not letting kids have water when it's hot were unknown until recently. I would advise against it at any opportunity at this point.

posted by feloniousmonk at 12:18 PM on November 14

My experience with youth sports as a parent is that the quality and enlightenment of the leagues varies highly. Some leagues were extremely good at looking out for the safety of the kids and making sports a positive experience. Others were run as private fiefdoms with a bunch of jerk parents who were into helping their own children at the expense of everybody else.

I wouldn't stop my kids from playing football if they were determined to do it, but I'm extremely glad they don't. We don't know fully what is happening to these kids when they suffer a brain injury. We don't know the full extent of the damage that is done from an accumulation of incidental hits.

I am surprised that insurers are still covering high school football at this point.

posted by rcade at 12:30 PM on November 14

When people would find out I had all girls and no boys, they would look at me with such condescending pity and sorrow in their eyes. To hell with them. I've got the far better bargain. I didn't have to make critical decisions about:

- Circumcision
- Football
- Joining the Boy Scouts
- Having them become altar boys in the greater Boston archdiocese

I'm more than comfortable having to deal with the onset of menstruation and the possibility of unplanned impregnation instead.

posted by beaverboard at 01:21 PM on November 14

I played competitive hockey through college and suffered one concussion in my junior year of high school. Probably 1,000+ games, plus practices. My son was exactly 4 games into his football career playing defensive end as a sophomore in high school when he got his first concussion. His next one will be his last, at least from playing football.

I don't know if it is a matter if teaching improper technique, not teaching technique, or the plain old inherent danger of the game. I suspect it is all of the above.

posted by tahoemoj at 01:34 PM on November 14

I don't know if you got the best of that trade, Beaverboard. I have three sons. A teen-aged niece and nephew lived with us for several months. At a fast food place a 21-year-old lothario wouldn't stop staring at my 16-year-old niece like she was on the menu. I don't know how dads of daughters deal with that. I kept thinking to myself, "Today is the day I kill a man."

posted by rcade at 02:25 PM on November 14

When my son was of Pop Warner age, he was quite large -- much bigger than the average 8- or 9-year-old. He was told that he could not play Pop Warner unless he signed up for a team in the 12-year-old category. I'm sure you can understand the difference in skills and muscular development between a large 8-year-old and an average 12-year-old, even though their weight might be near equal. Allowing my son to submit to getting the stuffing, not to mention brains, beat out of him was not going to happen. Interestingly enough, the Boys' Club has taken over the youth football program here, and now the kids are grouped by age.

Proper coaching and the teaching of proper technique at the youth level can instill the habits that help protect against injury, but in a sport like football, head injury is nearly inevitable. Will there ever be a way of preventing head injuries? Perhaps, but even if severe injury is prevented, will there not be a cumulative effect caused by a succession of minor injury? I don't want to believe it, but I'm afraid that there will soon be an end to football as we know it.

For rcade, one of my neighbors, a former police chief in a neighboring town, has a teen age daughter. When she was first born, he said that he would institute a "ride-along" program for her dates. No, not ride along in the police cruiser; he would ride along with his daughter and her date. He has not done this, but he says he still has his service weapon and knows how and when to use it.

posted by Howard_T at 03:06 PM on November 14

When people would find out I had all girls and no boys, they would look at me with such condescending pity and sorrow in their eyes. To hell with them. I've got the far better bargain. I didn't have to make critical decisions about:

- Circumcision
- Football
- Joining the Boy Scouts
- Having them become altar boys in the greater Boston archdiocese

I'm more than comfortable having to deal with the onset of menstruation and the possibility of unplanned impregnation instead.

Two words: Teenage girls.

/Not so much for you. Dads get it easier than their mums.

posted by owlhouse at 07:53 PM on November 14

I kept thinking to myself, "Today is the day I kill a man."

Ugh. I am not looking forward to those days.

posted by NoMich at 07:15 AM on November 15

My daughter came out to me when she was 16 years old.

First reaction: "I love you."

Second reaction: "You're NOT going to get pregnant!"

posted by owlhouse at 07:36 AM on November 15

All things are possible, owl. Two women I know decided that they wanted to start a family together. The one who was younger and in better health became pregnant in due course. After the news became widely known and was hailed with delight, there was a convivial holiday gathering that the couple attended.

Things loosened up considerably as the evening went along and at one point, I found myself facing 3 gents I know well who all had a devilish look in their eyes. They came up to me and leaned in. One of them said to me in a Christian Slater sort of way: "you're the sperm donor, aren't you?"

posted by beaverboard at 12:38 PM on November 15

My daughter is 7 days old. You have given me much to think about.

posted by yerfatma at 04:21 PM on November 15

Congrats, Yerfatma! Many years of health and happiness to her, and decades of paranoia for you my friend ;)

posted by billsaysthis at 11:47 AM on November 16

"you're the sperm donor, aren't you?"

My 24-year-old son and I were riding the T (Red Line train) to the Celtics' game last night, when his eye caught an advertisement. It was seeking volunteer sperm donors, required donors to have a college degree, or to be pursuing same. They were also offering up to $1200 per month. My comment to him was that he ought to look it up. After all, why not make some spare change doing the things you usually do. No comment from son, other than a nervous snicker.

Congratulations to you and most deservingly to your wife, yefatma. Raise her right to be a true fan.

posted by Howard_T at 09:36 PM on November 16

He'd have been making money hand over fist if he listened to you.

posted by yerfatma at 11:24 AM on November 17

I've seen family life take the vibrant edge off of more than a few people, but I think that thus far, paternity is only serving to hone and enhance yerfatma's abilities.

With offspring in the picture, parental fleetness of mind is a prized commodity.

posted by beaverboard at 12:51 PM on November 17

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