The Risks of Playing the Games


The Risks of Playing the Games
Mar 6, 2013

The Shirley Povich Center at the Merrill College of Journalism hosted a panel of professionals on Wednesday, February 27 from 7 to 9 p.m. The event was held in the College’s Richard Eaton Auditorium in Knight Hall – the go-to room for professional panels. The panelists included: Dr. Stephen Haas, retired physician for the Wizards, Capitals and Nationals; Sean Sansiveri, Staff Council of the NFL Players Association; Scott Hallenbeck, Executive Director of USA Football; Rick “Doc” Walker of ESPN-980, ComcastSportsNet and retired player of the Washington Redskins; Mark Hyman, author of “Until it Hurts” and adjunct professor at George Washington University; and Monica McNutt, a graduate student of the college who played college basketball during her undergraduate career at Georgetown.

The panel started by getting right to the point with George Solomon’s question: Is there a future for football? The panel was in agreement for the most part that there was a future as long as long as there were some slight changes to the game. They talked about the evolution of the game, the processes it would have to go through and the changes that would have to be made. One change that was brought up was eliminating tackle football before the age of 14. This means that there would be absolutely no tackle football played until boys entered high school. While there are many obvious benefits to this, there are also some disadvantages. One in particular that struck me was that if there was no coaching of how to safely tackle players before high school, as soon as they entered ninth grade they would be forced into tackling right away, without adequate practice.

The next question that stood out to me was about Obama stating that if he had sons instead of daughters, he would not want them playing football. Scott Hallenbeck talked about coaches not knowing what they are doing, and that people should not fear the game of football itself, but instead fear coaches who do not know what they are doing. He said that new standards need to be set in order for parents to be able to trust coaches completely with the safety of their children. Proper education and training also needs to be administered to coaches before they are allowed to fill the position.



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