Dr. Robert Cantu, a Pennsylvania neurosurgeon and expert in brain injury, recently suggested that football players practice without helmets. His logic was that players would be forced to learn to avoid head contact while playing the high contact sport. Coaches disagree with him and say that they already stress to their players the importance of avoiding traumatic brain injury in the game, a Meadville Tribune article reported.
Coach Mark Matlak of Allegheny, Pennsylvania told the Tribune, ‘I think that every coach in America is trying to teach safer tackling, trying to keep the head out of tackling techniques.’ However, concussions still occur at an alarming rate among youth football players. Recent attention on head injuries in the NFL has led to increased awareness, training, and concern over young football players.
Matlak added that coaches and trainers use specific training techniques to insure that players know how to properly engage others in the game with a minimum of head contact. The head coach at Conneaut Valley High School, Scott Hoover, said, ‘We go through it every year. We hit bags, we show proper form and position of the head’”always have the head up instead of leading with head down,’ the article reported.
The coaches did note that players sometimes do not report head injuries. Coach Pat Gould told the Tribune, ‘Sometimes kids don’t do their part and don’t let you know what’s going on. The kids want to play and they think they’re fine. That’s a problem with the sport. It’s a tough guy sport. Everyone is going to have a bump or a bruise.’ The NFL has recently gone to great pains to eliminate the tough guy attitude from the sport. After all, a person suffering from multiple brain injuries no longer displays the same machismo as he could before the injuries. Getting a brain injury is far from being a tough guy.
Cantu disagrees with the coaches about the role of the helmet in football. He suggested that the helmet is used as a tool for tackling and ramming other players, which poses a significant head injury risk. Regardless of Cantu’s suggestions, coaches in Pennsylvania insist that helmets are necessary and vital to practice.
Chiodo, Pete. (April 4, 2010) ‘Local coaches’ viewpoints differ from brain injury expert.’ Retrieved on April 6, 2010 from the Meadville Tribune Web site:http://meadvilletribune.com/sports/x1687698573/Local-coaches-viewpoints-…