A newish twist on an old idea

Published 10:55 am Wednesday, October 23, 2013

We’ve all read the stories and seen the interviews of former National Football League greats, who have seemingly aged before their time due to head injuries associated with playing the violent game of football.

I admire the steps the NFL has taken — albeit probably forced by recent lawsuits — to prevent future harm to players, and I look forward to enhanced technology in the future that might make the game even safer.

That being said, I believe something would be missing from our sport of football if hitting were removed from the game at the high school, college and professional levels. The excitement would be diminished for sure, but also it just wouldn’t be the same game.

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I think a more advanced tackling technique and maybe better equipment could and should be used at these levels for safety reasons, but beyond that I think there’s just a natural risk involved.

I do believe contact outside of those levels could be changed in some way, which brings me to my next point.

As many of the readers know, I recently got engaged and have thus begun planning for a family. If I have a son at some point in that timeline, and if he takes after his mother and has some athletic ability, I think I’ll let him play football. That’s definitely true if pee wee leagues begin to follow Atmore’s lead.

Murray Johnson has started a new league for Atmore’s pee wee football, which kicked off Tuesday — a league where helmets and pads won’t be necessary.

Children from 5 and under to 11 and under are now playing flag football in Atmore. More than 80 kids have signed up for the league free of charge and will play hour-long games on smaller fields Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Tom Byrne Park this fall.

The seven-on-seven no-contact league has been catching on other places as a way to prevent injury and cut down on insurance costs associated with football.

I predict tremendous growth in the popularity of this league, moving forward, and I’ll be glad to see it. I think it’s a great way to learn the fundamentals of a violent sport without the violence … at least at first.


Dale Liesch is a news reporter for The Atmore Advance. You can email him at dale.liesch@atmoreadvance.com.