To the Editor:
Exploitation. It’s not a pretty word. But it is just the reason why I grimaced when I read Eric Olson’s column in the Jan. 27/28 Daily Chronicle titled, “Don’t take tackling away from kids.”
Kids are not getting their heads scrambled because they love to tackle and play rough. It’s happening because they are getting exploited by adults.
Adults have taken the fun kids have competing, and have hyped it, over-organized it, and packaged it in a desperate attempt to get some excitement back into their own sedentary, boring lives. Their systems have sexually abused thousands of young girls in the world of gymnastics, and brutalized millions of young boys in the world of football.
I grew up loving to play smear, and tackle football in neighbors’ yards and empty lots. I learned how to problem solve because we kids ran things ourselves. And I survived with my brain intact because we all played with a few kids our own size. I didn’t have countless “good hits” inflicted on me by six or seven boys three times my size who had coaches screaming at them.
Football today, from high school to the pros, is guaranteed to give you brain trauma. And it’s all because of the adults who don’t mind that horrible human cost so that they can see some good action. Protocols for thicker padding in helmets and having a trainer around are not going to change that truth.
It is telling that, in the article on tackle football for the younger than 12 crowd, Joe Ryan, Sycamore High School coach, said he didn’t think the proposed banning of it would affect the product put out on the field at the college or high school level.
Can we not see that the solution to the brain injury problem is not putting adults in charge, and dreaming up a few new “protocols.” We must stop adults from taking over and turning kids into products.
Stop exploiting young people. Stop usurping their passion for competition. Stop accepting countless brain injuries and other batterings as an acceptable price to pay for our entertainment.