Con: Contact Sport Regulations

Michael Pankowski, Opinion Managing Editor

Many students at RHS and across the U.S. dream of one day playing their beloved sport in college. But those dreams could soon become a lot tougher to achieve.

New regulations are being introduced that will dilute and even mangle the sports they love. These new rules could make it more difficult for young athletes to succeed later on, hurting their chances of playing at higher levels. Regulations aiming to increase safety by mutilating decades-old sports need to be done away with so athletes can focus on becoming the best at their chosen sport, and not some kiddie-carnival version of it.

Take football, America’s most loved and lucrative sport.

A Jan. 31, 2017 article in the New York Times reports that “U.S.A. Football, the national governing body for amateur football, intends to introduce a drastically altered youth football game [where] each team will have six to nine players on the field, instead of 11; the field will be far smaller; kickoffs and punts will be eliminated; and players will start each play in a crouching position instead of in a three-point stance.”

Whatever this Frankenstein-esque creation may be called, it should not be called football.

How will an young lineman learn quality blocking techniques when he cannot even engage in his cornerstone three-point stance? How will the next Devin Hester, the NFL’s all-time most electric kick and punt returner, emerge if kickoffs and punts are eliminated?

Football is not the only sport being threatened with malicious surgery; soccer has also recently been deformed. At the beginning of 2016, U.S. Soccer unveiled its Soccer Concussion Initiative that includes “eliminating heading for children 10 and under [and] limiting the amount of heading in practice for children between the ages of 11 and 13,” according to U.S. Soccer’s official website.

With these regulations in place, players arriving in high school will have never experienced typical in-game heading. While heading is only one aspect of the game, a player’s execution of headers (or lack thereof) could be the difference between a college coach asking for said player’s email address after the game, or leaving the game early to beat traffic home.

Subpar performance is not the only atrocious effect of these impairments. If the learning of skills such as heading is ignored due to their in-game ban, players risk injuring themselves when attempting these unfamiliar but imperative actions at the age they are finally allowed to be completed.

“As a defender, heading the ball away from the goal is an integral part of my job on the field. If I was not able to practice this skill in games when I was younger, my performance now would likely suffer,” girls varsity soccer player junior Alexandra Kushner said.

While protecting the health of our young athletes is of course of the utmost importance, it is much more reasonable to simply teach proper technique needed for certain skills instead of terminating the practices completely.

For all you parents who find these absurd regulations necessary in order to keep your precious children safe while sports, you may want to go a step further. Stuff your kid’s football helmets with pillows, wrap your soccer player in bubble wrap, and add reflective tape generously.

Congratulations, your Mama’s boys and Daddy’s girls are now safe and sound. Now get them off the field and make room for the real athletes a�� the ones who truly want to achieve their dreams and play their sports that are perfect just the way they are.