Concussions are giving parents pause for concern when it comes to youth football -- and rightfully so.
But avoiding the game won't guarantee that your child will avoid a serious head injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the top three sports that send young athletes to the emergency room with traumatic brain injuries are football (29.1%) , soccer (16.5%) and basketball (15.4%).
Yet it's football that finds itself under the microscope.
Youth football can be a wonderful, life-altering experience, if it is coached the right way. Safety has to be the number priority.
As a youth football coach for six years, I've seen both sides. Safety needs to start with parents, and then the coaches. I recommend that before you sign up with a program, do research. Find out what the organizations are doing to ensure that their coaches are instructing the correct way.
The effort that the NFL is taking to make the sport safer needs to trickle down to the youth level. Some coaches have embraced it, while others continue to pass on what they were taught -- often unsafe techniques.
Drastically reducing helmet-to-helmet hits has to be on the minds of EVERY coach from youth to the NFL. Seeing what's happened to former NFL players is sickening to watch.
But I'm for fixing the sport, not eliminating it.
For information on what the NFL is doing to help youth football improve safety, check out these links: