A Tragic Football Death

A 5′-6″, 136 pound high school football player was killed while participating in a “team building” Navy SEALs drill of carrying a heavy log with other teammates.

The log slipped and struck the boy in the head, causing his death.

This is another example of conflating the game of football with a war mentality. Carrying a group log as a means of building teamwork was ridiculous in its concept and devastating in its result.

The SEALs use that drill because it may help them save lives. They need that ability to help our country in a very real way. That is not the same as learning to play a high school football game.

This high school is in my home town on Long Island, New York which creates even more sorrow for me because it hits so close to home.

It is difficult enough to teach boys how to tackle and block to avoid injuries, and time spent on frivolous activity such as a log lift would be much better spent in carefully watched exercises promoting safety.

The mindset as it relates to football, especially in the era of CTE, must concentrate more on the cerebral than the physical. Teach proper techniques over and over so reaction to an opponent’s movements results in a carefully trained response that is both effective and safe.

The game of football is really not difficult. It is simply a matter of guarding your territory and denying your opponent an advantage through proper preparation and effective implementation.

In a zone pass defense, deep defenders must give receivers room to navigate and then athletically snare the pass away.

Linemen know on the snap of the ball who they are to block. The location of defenders triggers the memory of the blockers to tell them what areas they must get to in protecting the passer or opening holes for the runner.

Defenses have similar rules to follow based upon the scouting analysis of the opponent. Everything that prepares a player to act or react is based on knowledge that coaches impart to them.

Nothing builds team work like a team winning. It has nothing to do with lifting logs, or humiliating blocking drills, or vocally berating a young boy because he missed an assignment, or worse yet, wasn’t “tough enough.”

A young boy’s life is lost. That is tragic beyond belief. I feel so sorry for his parents and his family. To have had it happen as it did defies reason beyond logic and must be a lesson to all connected to the sport to very carefully review every aspect of the game of football as it relates to safety.

The responsibility of player safety is up to anyone who enjoys the game, be he or she a fan, a parent, a player, a coach, an administrator, an athletic director, a reporter, a booster, indeed anybody who looks forward to football and autumn, two things this young boy will never see again.

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4 responses to “A Tragic Football Death

  1. Colleen Logan Hofmeister

    Amen!

  2. Robert Chambers

    Hey Coach, very sad indeed. Sometimes it seems as though we lose sight of how young these young men and women are and how that should also be a factor in preparation, training, and practice.