NFL QB persuades hometown to drop youth tackle football
Hill attended high school in Parsons, Kansas, and earlier this year met with the town’s recreation department about switching to flag football in its 8- and 9-year-old leagues. According to KAKE-TV, many Kansas youth programs start tackle football in elementary school, but Parsons will no longer be one of them.From the article:
“I think there’s a lot about CTE that is still unknown, but I do know that it’s unnecessary to put them at risk at that age to play tackle football,” he said.
CTE is a progressive brain disease found in athletes who have suffered repeated hits to the head, causing severe pain, hallucinations and is partially blamed for multiple former NFL players taking their own lives.
“There’s been a lot of negative press about the game but this is a good way to get kids playing the sport and playing it as safely as they can,” said Hill.
Hill’s efforts received praise from fellow pros like Jordy Nelson and Alex Smith. But not everyone was on board, and KAKE-TV reported that the decision to ban tackling resulted in some backlash.
Hill penned a lengthy editorial in the town’s newspaper earlier this year, urging the community to make the change.
Here is part of his message:
“… I am a huge proponent of the sport of football. I believe that boys are meant to be outside, getting dirty, being physical, and competing every day. I believe that football teaches so many things to the kids that play it. It is the ultimate team sport. There is a position on the field for every person, no matter their height, weight, or speed. Football’s great equalizer to physical prowess is technique. Good technique and leverage wins on the field. Good technique is hard to teach young kids, especially given the limited practice times and their ability to learn and apply those teachings. I witnessed this first hand in the many years of football camp we offered our youth. Flag football is a great alternative. It teaches the game, gets kids active, and promotes the sport to every kid.
“I understand that Parsons has a long history of playing tackle football at an early age. This change is something that many people have a hard time identifying with. But let me ask a simple question about how this has suited our youth. How many state championships in football has it brought the City of Parsons and USD 503? The answer is zero. Don’t you think its time to change the culture? And if zero championships aren’t reason enough, we just graduated a class that did not win a single game until midway through their senior season.”
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