Columnist: Should NFL coaches blame moms for concussion concerns?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 27, 2016

By John A. Tures

Contributing columnist

Arizona Cardinals Coach Bruce Arians blames moms for concerns about concussions. But is it really mom’s fault that their kid won’t play football? Are most dads really so gung-ho about football? Or is there something else going on.

With movies like “Concussion,” President Obama voicing concern about the sport and reports about death and debilitating head injuries to football players, America’s most popular sport is clearly under siege. A KidsHealth poll shows two-thirds of parents are more concerned about concussions. And those who love the game are seeking to fight back. But are they missing the mark?

According to Yahoo Sports’ Shutdown Corner, the Arizona Cardinals coach of the NFL decided to tackle the issue head on:

“Asked at the clinic about football in light of concussions and CTE and the game being subject to more scrutiny over health and safety than ever before, Arians had some interesting observations.

‘This is our sport, it’s being attacked,’ he said Friday. ‘We have to stop it at the grassroots. It’s the best game that’s ever been [bleeping] invented, and we have to make sure that moms get the message, because that’s who’s afraid of our game right now. It’s not dads, it’s moms.’

‘Our job is to make sure the game is safe at all levels. The head really has no business being in the game. There’s a lot of different teachers, but when I was taught how to tackle and how to block, it was on a two-man sled. You did it with your shoulder pads. That’s still the best way to do it.’”

But a recent survey shows it’s not about moms being against football for head injuries, and most dads being in favor of football, despite the risks.

A national survey taking by i9 Sports’ nonprofit agency revealed that it has more to deal with whether the parent played the game.

“Ninety percent of dads who suffered football-related concussions want their children to play tackle football; 43 percent of football player dads say there’s too much hype over concussions,” the research showed.

Moreover, “of all football-playing dads polled, 77 percent say tackle football is safe for children under age 12 even though more than three in five of these dads suffered a concussion themselves during their playing days.”

Additionally, the survey found that a majority of football playing dads see getting a concussion as a sign that the kid is “playing hard.” A number of these football dads see coaches valuing a win over safety, and don’t see any concussion protocols being adopted.

Coach Arians may be incorrect about moms being to blame for holding their sons back from the game. As the i9 poll notes that“(football) dads say most moms (61 percent) agree with them that tackle football is safe for young athletes.”

It seems that rather than singling out moms as the group to win over, or assuming all dads don’t mind concussions, the National Football League should focus on football dads, and educating them on the importance of taking concussions seriously. As Coach Arians himself points out, there’s a proper way to play the game that doesn’t leave your head vulnerable. Hopefully, playing smart won’t make the game of football vulnerable either.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College. He may be reached at