US Soccer’s effort to ban heading for players under 10 years old has sparked an outcry with reaction ranging from, it’s about time, to this will be the death of soccer in America! So, what do I think? I think that US Soccer is doing the right thing. Simply put, I can’t muster up a whole lot of outrage against a proposal intended to help reduce the chance of brain damage in youngsters.
We have seen in recent years the that the “tough it out,” attitude of the old school is no longer the way to go. As a parent of two sons now in their 20’s I was guilty of it myself.
And when I played soccer and other sports growing up I certainly wanted to emulate that same attitude. I was under 10 years old in May 1970 when Willis Reed hobbled onto the court at Madison Square Garden damaged hip be damned, to inspire the Knicks to the NBA Championship title over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Like everyone else that I knew, I ate up with a spoon. Playing with pain was a badge of honor. In the NFL players got “their bell rung,” in MLB pitchers pitched on three days rest and threw 300 plus innings, where today’s star hurlers go every fifth day and 200 innings makes you a “warrior.”
But things have changed and even if old schoolers like me complain about it from time to time, we know that most of that change has come about because we simply know more about these things than we did back then.
And that’s a good thing.