Letter to the editor: Football article disappoints

Letter To Editor

As a Redwood Football Parent and longtime supporter and contributor to the Bark, I am disappointed and dismayed at a recent article in the Bark related to Redwood Football.

The article, an opinion piece written by Lucy Tantum titled:  Football contradicts educational goals of school.

The article is biased and under-researched. With its inflammatory headline, it suggests that Redwood Football should be canceled in order to meet the educational goals of school. Lucy further suggests that “By fielding a football team, the school is permitting football players to subject themselves to the chance of long-term brain damage”.

Has Lucy ever attended a Redwood football game? Has she done any research into the new on-field rules that penalize teams for head-to-head contact? Is she aware that every Redwood Football player has the opportunity to receive concussion testing prior to the season as a baseline for assessment by a medical professional if they believe they have suffered a concussion? Does she know that Redwood’s Varsity Football team has only suffered one concussion this season and that it was in no way related to football?

All high school sports come with some risk of injury. Team sports also instill discipline, teamwork, responsibility and respect. They create community for students to expand their network of friends and provide a sense of identity. They teach incredibly valuable life lessons; grace in defeat (or victory), learning from experience, and looking for the good in challenging situations. Perhaps most importantly, they provide physical conditioning, and self-esteem to teenagers living in a society challenged with obesity, bullying and underage drug and alcohol abuse.

To provide some balance to the original article, I have pulled some other statistics for you and the Bark readers to consider:

One, the leading cause of death in teenagers is driving. In 2010, about 2,700 teens ages 16 to 19 in the US were killed and almost 282,000 were treated in Emergency Rooms for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes.

Second, more female students suffer catastrophic injuries nationally from cheerleading than any other sport.

Third, since 2000 there has been a fivefold increase in the number of serious shoulder and elbow injuries among youth baseball and softball players.

Fourth, among athletes ages 5 to 14, 28 percent of percent of football players, 25 percent of baseball players, 22 percent of soccer players, 15 percent of basketball players, and 12 percent of softball players were injured while playing their respective sports.

Considering these facts, one might conclude that all school sports should be banned to prevent injury, and students should not be allowed to drive to/from school. Clearly, these suggestions would (and should) cause outrage.

On balance, the benefits of playing high school football (or any team sport) in a well-managed program far outweigh the risks. A student’s decision to participate in any high school sport should be based on facts and not be coerced or influenced by inflammatory, one-sided articles in the student paper.


– Shirley Foster