In an interview with Monday Morning Quarter Back's (MMBQ) Peter King, two-time NFL coach of the year Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said parents who do not let their children play football "are fools."
Currently, the game has been under constant scrutiny because of potential health issues resulting from rough play, but Arians said that football is "the greatest game in the world." He added that it instilled in players values such as toughness, commitment, and perseverance, writes Andrew Joseph for USA Today.
Arians confronted the fear of concussions by saying that he believed the statistics concerning the number and severity of the injuries may be inaccurate. The coach mentioned that new helmets were about to be introduced and agreed there were safety issues involved in the game.
He also pointed out that girls soccer causes more concussions than football causes for kids at the same age. There are also more knee injuries for soccer players aged eight to 12 than for football players of the same ages, according to the coach.
Arians is extremely well-liked, and he is clearly very thankful for the part football has played in his life, but, according to Andrew Joseph, the coach seemed less concerned about the number of concussions in the game of football and more interested in discussing women's soccer and youth sports.
There is not much research to back up Arian's statements. But in a 2015 study, Stephen W Marshall, Kevin M. Guskiewicz, Viswanathan Shankar, Michael McCrea and Robert C. Cantu published in Injury Epidemiology that athletes who played football had the highest risk of suffering a concussion with female lacrosse players coming in at No. 2.
Needless to say, the coach has been highly criticized for calling parents fools because they choose not to let their children play football. Coach Arians made his comments while attending the NFL owners' meeting in Boca Raton, Florida.
The Arizona Republic's Jeremy Cluff quotes Pete Prisco of CBS Sports, who Tweeted:
"So now the attack on football, on guys like Bruce Arians for saying what he did, is back on again? Nobody forces anybody to play. Period."
The Washington Post's Des Bieler writes that Arians pointed to "DNA tests" that he said could reveal whether or not a child should play a contact sport. He noted that tests were in place that could find a gene marker that would indicate a person's likelihood to experience slow recovery from a blow to the head.
An author of a 2015 study concerning high school soccer players and concussions did show that females suffered more concussions than male players. But, the author continued:
"The rate is certainly much lower than football. Football is more than double that."
In other recent news, Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys said it was "absurd" to believe there was a "clear" link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease found in people who have experienced severe blows to the head.
Former Harvard football player Chris Nowinski co-founded the Concussion Legacy Foundation. He told The Washington Post that he was behind banning tackle football until high school. And because only a few high school players move on to college teams and a small percentage of those make it to a professional team, most young men who play football would only have four years of exposure to possible damage to the brain.