Is Underground Pee Wee Football Coming?
Two divergent trends in youth sports are starting to figuratively ‘butt heads’ as it were. Concern about concussions and head trauma in football is rising on every level. The last thing any young man wants is brain trauma and dementia. When you have incidents where a man actually jumps onto a moving car, you have to suspect that something is going on. Former quarterback Jim McMahon says that he often gets lost going home.
The other side of the coin is that getting drafted in the NFL is seen as a Powerball lottery in many communities. Obviously, people want an edge for their children to get a better shot at the brass ring. Coaches and specialists are starting to train children younger and younger. Some see no reason to wait for babies to walk before starting to drill fundamentals. For athletes part, they are still hesitant to report concussion or concussion like symptoms for fear of losing their place or playing time. This is true all the way up to the professional ranks. Take the recent example of the San Francisco 49ers quarterback situation.
Alex Smith exited a game with concussion symptoms and was replaced by backup Colin Kaepernick. Smith was not having a bad season. The 49ers were a winning team with Smith. It could be argued that Jim Harbaugh was looking for any reason to make the change. Smith is now cleared and has effectively lost his job due to a concussion.
Regardless of the fact that Harbaugh may have been plotting against Smith all along, the end result is that Smith lost his job due to a concussion. This means that players (especially in the professional ranks) will now try to hide a concussion whenever possible. Similarly, it can be argued that the Cleveland Browns drafted Brandon Weedon because Colt McCoy suffered a concussion last season. McCoy may never start in an NFL game again. These are serious considerations.
This is not only being felt on the NFL level. Head trauma specialist and surgeon Dr. Robert Cantu is publicly suggesting that tackle football not start until the age of 14. Flag football through junior high is absolutely heresy in some parts of this country. To a lesser extent, Cantu may also have suggested another cash cow be carved up by saying that cheerleading should be subjected to the same rules.
Make no mistake, this is the most serious accusation by a doctor against a profession since Seduction of the Innocent took on the comics books industry. Cantu’s allegations could easily result in Congressional hearings as well as an outcry for safety on a national level. If there is such a rule enforced, the law of unintended consequences states that the entire situation just became much more dire. There is no way that a competitive edge will be lost in the search of an NFL draft pick merely because the sport is either illegal or not supposed to exist before a certain age. If that happens, welcome to the age of underground Pee Wee football.
The first rule of underground Pee Wee football is that no one talks about underground Pee Wee football. The second rule of full tackle underground Pee Wee football is that injuries will either be covered up or brushed off. Without controlled supervision, this suddenly becomes as dangerous as the boogeyman or a back alley abortionist. Imagine trying to enforce a ban on tackle football under the age of fourteen in the state of Texas. You would conceivably have a Sheriff’s department more concerned about the performance of a young outside linebacking corps than anything to do with a silly rule.
To put it all into perspective, Adolf Hitler once stated that he wished he had the power to outlaw skiing in Germany. Keep in mind, Hitler was stating that there was a limitation to what could be done by his regime in recreational sports. Football in Texas and other parts of the country is not a simple sport. Football is a way of life. Football is seen by some people as the only ticket to a better life. Children can’t quit football if they tried. What is giving all of this traction is that this is coming at the same point in which some people are trying to get even more cutthroat in the realm of Pee Wee or Pop Warner football.
Pop Warner football has now become embroiled in bounty scandals. Coaches paying players for knocking other eleven-year-olds out of a football game. The payouts are a bit smaller than they are on the professional level, but the results tend to be either the same or worse. The thought is now being perpetuated that coaches not only do not have any intention of encouraging safety, they are actually encouraging the opposite.
An inability to self police is the first step in asking for higher levels of regulations. Make no mistake, we live in an era that loves to regulate. Regulation leads to outlaw behavior. Just try to imagine a time in which having children play a tackle football game is seen on the same level as cock or dog fighting. It may not be very far off.