As moms of kids who are tackle football playing age, we've thought long and hard about letting our sons play the sport (we have daughters too but neither of them have shown an interest in playing the game). Grandparents are mildly disapproving yet proud when the kids do well, friends who've taken a firm stance against letting their kids play tackle football politely tolerate our enthusiasm, and every time our children are on the field, we enjoy ourselves immensly but do acknowledge the vigilant "fingers crossed" that linger in our heads.
The truth is, though, no matter what sport our kids play, we cross our fingers just a little bit each time. Heck, we cross our fingers every time they ride their bikes to school! The reality is that every sport has its dangers and football isn't any different. It does, however, receive a ton of pressure due to the large amount of concussion related publicity football gets.
That very pressure has lead to a national safety program called Heads Up Football. It's a comprehensive program developed to advance player safety in football. And when we heard the Miami Dolphins hosted a Heads Up Football clinic for moms, we were super excited!
The Dolphins recognized that the moms of young football players would benefit greatly from being educated about the safety measures being put in place for their kids and hopefully the word will spread: “Right now we know that there’s a lot of bad press about concussions and the numbers of kids that are participating in youth football has lowered over the past few years, but I think with the USA Football program, we’re just here to inform moms, who we consider the decision-makers in the household, about concussion awareness, heat and hydration, proper equipment fitting and more importantly Heads Up Football tackling techniques that take the head out of football,” said former Dolphins tight end Troy Drayton, a USA Football master trainer and the team’s manager of youth and community programs. “It’s important that the mothers actually go through it, that they hear from other mothers who have their sons playing football, whose husbands are playing football or are involved in professional football and let them know that you have to take an active role in your son or your daughter’s participation in sports.”
Our kids play in leagues that have adopted this program and they only play against teams that are Heads Up Football certified as well. The tackling and blocking is different, the attitude of the coaches is different, and the game is evolving into something more intelligent in it's approach to it's players and their safety.