As the biggest game of the season hits MetLife Stadium this weekend, it’s hard to ignore the safety controversy surrounding the most popular game in America. Recently, a U.S. District Judge rejected a $765 million settlement, which was agreed upon by the NFL and numerous players, regarding concussions. The Judge was apparently concerned that retired NFL players were not properly covered by the settlement. Many of us, that have children, are more than just a little interested in the subject of player safety.
My 13 year old son, an 8th grader, started every game as the quarterback for the Wilson Magnet Junior Varsity High School football team this past season. He wears a size 14 shoe, has a hand size equal to the average NFL quarterback, and he is expected to be as tall as Peyton Manning. He gets very good grades and his teachers and coaches have nothing but good things to say about him as a person. Although he loves the game of football, I believe what he really loves is the challenge and responsibility of being a quarterback and the camaraderie he feels as a member of the team.
That being said, football is big business and very dangerous. The NFL makes close to $9 billion in annual revenue and continues to grow at an incredible rate. The University of Texas football program, for example, generated $104.5 million for the 2010-2011 season. Could this be why 8th graders are being offered full-ride scholarships to play college football?
As a parent I cringed every time my son took a hit, but I am encouraged by the steps NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is taking to make the game safer. Players are being fined and suspended for dangerous hits. Yes, there has been plenty of complaints from some players, coaches, and fans, but the game remains extremely popular.
The NFL has a tremendous amount of influence in the football universe. They have basically put the word out that if you want to play in the NFL you better learn how to hit the proper way. Several college players were kicked out of games after one illegal hit this past season. The word is apparently out, and as a parent, I am happy about that.