PTI and Youth Sports

Most of my posts (that is to say the other thPTI Imageree) are researched and put together over several days, but I am reacting to yesterday evening’s edition of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption (PTI).  I really enjoy watching Mike Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser’s witty banter and reasoned discussion of the issues of the day in sports.  And, as I was ending my week, I settled in to see what they had to say.  I only saw the first 10 minutes of the episode (you can download the podcast of the episode) and found a couple of interesting items with respect to youth sports.

First was a discussion of the finding that 87 of 91 former NFL players who donated their brains to science after death tested positive for a brain disease.  Wilbon rightfully asked “What does this mean for future generations of parents?”  A question I discussed in detail in my previous post:  Should My Son Play Youth Tackle Football?  I appreciated Kornheiser’s push for restraint with respect to jumping to conclusions like this is “the end of football”.  In an example of the reasoned discussion typical on the show, he asked questions about conclusions that should be derived from this sample set.

Then was the story about the two football players who assaulted a referee in a game (make no bones about it – what they did was assault).  On Good Morning America, they claimed that they were instructed to do so by their coach.  Again, the discussion was relevant and reasoned.  Wilbon said:  “Kids do follow the orders of the person they call coach”.  I appreciate his point about how important coaches are to our kids.  Kornheiser then suggested that real courage in this situation – while admitting that he doesn’t know if he would have been able to do it himself –  would have been the kids recognizing the demand was wrong and saying “no”.

My takeaways:  the sport of football is at an inflection point with the continued discussion about the risks of concussions (upcoming Will Smith movie) and everyone should all be cognizant of the crucial role our kids’ coaches play in helping shape them as young people.

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