From the moment our son stepped onto a football field ten years ago, his health and safety have always been the primary concerns for our family.
Does he have the best possible equipment like a helmet, shoulder pads, mouth guard and cleats? Are the coaches teaching the proper techniques to avoid injuries? Is the league reputable?
These have always been fair questions for any parent to ask, but as we wait for sports at all levels to return from the pause caused by the coronavirus pandemic, all of the questions above are still in play. Now, the most important questions to ask are going to be universal…
Is it safe to play?
What new protocols are in place?
Those are the two biggest questions that will be asked if and when any youth football program is given the green light to return. All levels of youth and school football will follow the lead of what happens in the NFL and college, but there are some things that I believe all parents should be thinking about when it comes to the “new normal” of football.
I would hope that any coach, player, trainer and administrator that is always around the team will be tested on a regular basis. Testing capacity continues to increase, and my hopes are that it would certainly be ramped up by late this summer and early fall to test everyone that needs it.
You might also be thinking about what happens if someone on or around the team tests positive?
We’re not breaking any news here, but football is a contact sport so it’s okay to wonder about a number of things like:
-Will it be safe for players to block and tackle each other?
-Are there high fives and hugs after touchdowns?
-Will all the players, maybe with the exception of the quarterbacks, have to wear gloves?
The list goes on and on. But everyone involved in the sport is working to figure out the safest way to make the season happen.
There’s been a lot of discussion about social distancing as some of the professional sports leagues discuss a return and that should be no different in youth football.
We can assume there will be a plan in place with regards to spectators. Any bleachers would have to be cleaned on a regular basis and possibly, a fence around the field preventing spectators from going on the field. There might have to be a limit as to how many people can be in the bleachers or up against the fence around the field, but certainly, the immediate family should be permitted to go. We, as parents, have to be prepared to adapt to the new normal for ourselves and our children who are hoping to step out on the field this year.
There’s a lot that still has to be discussed, asked, and planned before any sport can resume and that includes football. Hopefully, the situation in the country improves to the point where there can be football this fall.
Peter is a sports anchor for the CBS Sports Radio Network and WFAN Radio in New York. His son Bradley is a participant in the U.S. National Team program while his younger son Jared plays flag football. Peter, his wife Sheryl and the boys are busy cheering on the New York Jets when they’re not at a youth football field.
It's important to exercise, but that can be hard if you're stuck in the house. USA Football’s 60 Ways to Play Guide is pack full of at-home exercises and workouts for the whole family.