So much for being a contact sport
The dog days of summer are almost over. When I was in high school, those dog days of summer started the first Tuesday of August at midnight, but my how things have changed. It seems like just yesterday I was starting my senior year by having a midnight "take flight" night. Our first practice would be a full-padded hitting and running free-for-all and the goal was to make it out alive.
Now, schools must ease into fall practices. First, you have two days of a T-shirt and helmet. Then you can progress to three days of shoulder pads and a helmet. Finally, on the sixth day you can have a full-padded practice, but you can only have so many full-padded practices during the week.
Let me be the first to say there is no reason to be doing contact drills more than twice a week once the season starts. In addition to that, coaches must watch for symptoms of concussions, dehydration, etc.
But football is a contact sport and the only way you are going to learn how to hit correctly is practice. Otherwise, a majority of players are going to shy away from contact and increase their chances of getting injured. Some college and professional players who were taught poor fundamental techniques in high school have suffered life-altering injuries.
We need to make the game as safe as possible. Scientists need to continue doing research on CTE and other effects collisions can cause to the brain. In my mind, though, you don't make the game safer by limiting the amount of contact a team can have in a given week. Not only can contact drills make a team better, but they can make a person tougher.
I found that playing football made me a better person, and by playing the sport, I gained the respect of not only my teammates but other teams as well. I might have suffered a concussion or two that I could feel the effects of in a couple years. In the end, I will be OK with that and would do it all over again.
Football isn't for everybody and that's fine. That's why it's important to be educated before putting on a uniform. The sport is a lot of fun, and if played right, can be a lot of fun to watch as well.
• • •
Ty Loftis is the sports editor for the Carroll County Newspaper. His email address is CCNSports@cox-internet.com.