In Praise of Youth Football
Guest Column from Wayne Mazzoni
Listening to Coach Wolff’s show this past Sunday morning, but not having the time to call in, I feel compelled to add to the conversation on youth football. Having been a part of youth sports as a player, coach, and parent, I can tell you nothing equals the experience you get from youth football.
Just the way the sport is, you get an amazing balance of toughness and teamwork you just don’t get from other sports. In fact, even players who consider a sport besides football as their primary sport will always tell you that the lessons learned from playing football made them a much better person and player in their main sport.
Certainly as kids get older, the more likely they are to sustain injuries, concussions specifically. But the fact remains just about every other sport has its risks as well. And of course, so does life. How many people die from cars, trains, and planes? Yet the last time I looked, all these modes of travel were pretty crowded. The fact is, without proper policing, training, and awareness, concussions can become a big problem. But with all the research and attention being paid to this topic, youth coaches are now being trained to be very cautious when it comes to any type of head injury. Very simply we always err on the side of caution.
I live and coach football in Fairfield County in Connecticut, generally considered one of the wealthiest counties in the country. I see youth football alive and very well in these towns. Greenwich, New Canaan, Darien, Westport, Fairfield, Ridgefield, Wilton, and the rest have thriving youth football leagues and excellent high school programs. The parents of these kids are well educated and successful people, who still understand that so much is to be gained from youth football. While any youth sport gets kids off their tablets and phones, football creates a family, a toughness, a team spirit that really cannot be replicated in almost any other facet of life.
Coach Wayne Mazzoni is the pitching coach at Sacred Heart University. He also coaches youth football with the 6th grade Fairfield Wildcats.