Football: All Risk and No Reward?
Football is definitely one of the most physical sports ever created, hands down. It requires courage, strength, hard work, and an abundance of practice as to ensure injuries don’t occur. However, no matter how hard you try injuries are going to come, but there are times when you think, “Is this GAME really worth it”? From a competitive stand point I definitely believe it is but from a family man point of view if I had to choose between that and making sure I can think for myself (without random blackouts and headaches) and run around with my kids, it definitely isn’t worth it.
One of the most difficult things to do (these days) in football is play defense. There are too many rules that enable the offense to have fun and be as aggressive as they want to be, yet the defense has to ease up on the throttle so to speak. Anyone who knows football or most sports knows that if you prohibit players from being aggressive your either liable to have defensive players hurt all of the time or you will have the defensive players so angry that they wont care if they hurt anyone. You have two options when playing football: One option is to get completely embarrassed if/when you play tentative on the defensive side of the football field; and the other option has to do with players getting seriously injured. Then there are times when you are simply following the orders of your coach and the result of doing that involves devastating injuries. That was the case of 13 year-old Donovan Hill.
Hill is a Pop Warner football player from California . He suffered a serious injury after colliding head-on with another player during the Midget Orange Bowl game, a league championship game. Initially the doctors told his family that he would never walk again. That alone can bring a family to its knees. Question is could it have been avoided?
For lack of a better phrase football is a violent sport which shows kids and adult alike that in Football aggression is what keeps you safe. Keep in mind I didn’t say players need to be ferocious, relentless, or wild/crazy. I simply said be aggressive. For instance, if you try to tackle someone at half speed and they are going full speed no matter how strong you are its likely they will either hurt you or run you right over.
I digress. The key point to this story is about what coaches are teaching their student/athletes about football. When I played football I was taught to square my shoulders, focus the front of my helmet either on the underarm of the opposition or square on their numbers, wrap, pick them up and/or drive them(into the ground). Donovan’s coaches said they taught him to put his forehead at the top of the oppositions numbers, wrap, and drive. Donovan kept telling them that he didn’t think it was safe to hit that way, he said it was dangerous because he felt he was “leading with his (top) head” and that’s illegal. Upon him voicing that concern one of the assistant coaches told him, “No that’s the way you’re supposed to tackle. You are not leading with the top of your helmet; you are leading with your forehead.” Unfortunately Donovan went out and did what he was told and now he is a paraplegic. When the assistant coach was questioned about teaching him that tackling method (despite Donovan telling him it wasn’t right and it was dangerous) he said he taught him exactly how/what he was taught. The assistant coach was then asked, “How/where did you learn how to tackle?” The guy responded with, “That’s what I have been taught since I was 10 years-old.” Now to me that’s not a good answer on any level, but more specifically it shows me that you can’t even tell us WHERE you were taught such things. Yes it could have been detrimental to his Pop Warner coaches(if that’s where he learned how to tackle) if he dimed them out for teaching him that, but either way the guy sounded like he taught him what he taught him and it happened so what (aka It is what it is).
I just want to make sure everyone knows the risks and rewards of sports like football. It teaches discipline, quick decisive thinking, and it builds a WE concept not a ME concept. I don’t believe anyone was at fault in this situation but everyone’s safety is critical; and they must screen these coaches because they are not only teaching kids about tackling, running, throwing etc. they are teaching them about life. That assistant coach didn’t sound like he knew what he was talking about nor did he seem to have a care about what happened to the kid. The kids are our future; they aren’t a responsibility they are a blessing that should be treated as such. Ensure their safety, but also ensure that you have given them great knowledge and experience that will enable them to not only take care of themselves but also be able to uplift/teach others how to be successful.
In conclusion I wanted to let everyone know that his Donovan’s mother is already in debt for over $300,000 due to the medical costs/treatments he must go through and if you wouldn’t mind donating something to help them along the way. If that is beyond your means please keep them in your prayers (which hold much more significant value because money comes and goes).
A donation fund has been set up for Hill.
Contributions can be made to Donovan Hill c/o Orange Empire Conference P.O. Box 7652 Huntington Beach , CA 92615-7652, according to the league website.