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Prep football: MSHSL decision leads to safety concerns for football season

MOORHEAD -- Ready or not, high school football is here. Literally, whether players are ready or not. It's just one season. Everything will be back to normal next season. That's what has put people at ease in regards to the early start of the 2015...

MOORHEAD - Ready or not, high school football is here. Literally, whether players are ready or not.
It’s just one season. Everything will be back to normal next season. That’s what has put people at ease in regards to the early start of the 2015 Minnesota high school football season and the new rules limiting contact in practice.
Everything will be OK next season when the state championships aren’t two weeks early.
Tell that to the players being helped off the field, unable to figure out where they are or what they’re doing. Look into their glassy eyes and say, “everything will be OK next season.”
When people say everything will be back to normal next season, the only normal thing they guarantee is the football schedule. In no part does it guarantee the safety of throwing high school football players into games with little contact beforehand and saying, “sorry, there’s no other option. Oh, by the way, don’t tackle with your head down.”
Football teams have two weeks of practice before their first games this season in Minnesota due to TCF Bank Stadium being booked. On top of that, in March, the Minnesota State High School League decided to approve a new bylaw that brought about many limitations to practice, including no contact for the first five days, rest days for the sixth and the seventh days and only 30 minutes of live action per practice.
So to avoid contact injuries, there will be less practicing of contact. New varsity players need practice tackling. Three-year starters need practice tackling. In order to be safe on the football field, all players need to practice tackling.
Hawley graduated 21 starters from last year’s team. Detroit Lakes graduated 22 players. Every team has new players stepping onto the field for the first time with the varsity and they’re armed with rest days.
According to MSHSL associate director Kevin Merkle, the MSHSL took the advice of the Minnesota Football Coaches Association in the decision to forego preseason scrimmages in order to continue allowing every team to make the playoffs. Cutting a week of section playoffs and allowing just the top four seeds in each section to qualify would’ve left time for another week of practice.
Of the 138 first-round football games last season, better seeds were 116-22. The average score of those first-round games were 36-17. Is the opportunity to lose a playoff game by more than three touchdowns worth another week of learning to play the game correctly?
The participation ribbon strikes again.
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison recently announced he was giving back the “participation” trophies of his 8-year-old and 6-year-old sons until they earn a real trophy.
“While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy,” Harrison said in a post on Instagram. “I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best.”
Not everyone gets an invite. Not everyone makes it. If life were easy, no one would be terrible at it. Sometimes you can put every ounce of yourself into something and still fail. It’s the brutal taste of failure which makes success taste unforgettable. That’s life. It’s not fair.
The sweat, blood and tears of sports is supposed to encompass life. A participation ribbon teaches no lesson. It diminishes the glory of victory. It certainly isn’t worth the price of extra time to practice a dangerous game.
Oh, well. There’s always next year.

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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