View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 9/5

Dion Clisso

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: September 5, 2015 - 4:12 PM



Let me begin this column saying I love football. I enjoy it as a fan. I loved playing it in my youth and of course love being able to have a job that allows me to be a part of the game.

That being said I have a major problem with a part of the sport that should be one of the best parts but because of poor choices by adults is fast becoming the thing that is tearing the sport down.

I am talking about youth football.

The other day my wife and I ran into an acquaintance who has a son the same age as ours. She asked the mother if their five year old was playing any sports this fall and she said he was playing football. She then went on to inform her that the kindergartener practiced three times a week for two hours a night.

Let that sink in for a bit.

Children who are going to school for the first time are spending multiple hours three school nights a week practicing football.

Is it Super Bowl week? Are they trying to win a national championship? Have they ever spent more than one hour with a child that age?

The attention span at that age is about 45 minutes tops. They get bored, they stop paying attention and they definitely are picking up whatever nuances of that coach’ very sophisticated offense.

Numbers for football are down from high school to little league. The game needs to be fun and not work all the way until they step foot in high school. I’m not saying there aren’t young children who want to be out there for as long as you will let them but this is overkill.

What is killing this sport are the misguided youth coaches who believe they are the next Nick Saban or Bill Bellicheck and just need to pile up the little league super bowl trophies and one day their name will be called.

The fact that the league even allows practice that long makes me question what’s going on at the higher levels of that organization.

Look, if my son wants to play football I want him to play. When he is a little older and can understand what it takes to play the game I will let him.

He doesn’t need to play for nine straight years to be a good high school player. I have had multiple state championship winning high school head coaches tell me that if a player competes in multiple sports and is a good athlete he can learn the game as a freshman in high school. There is no need for 10 years of seasoning.

He also doesn’t need to use football as a way to earn a college scholarship. He will do that in the classroom because that is the only guaranteed way of getting to the next level.

I challenge youth coaches to explain to me why two-hour practices are necessary. I live in Blue Springs and I would love to hear from the coach of this team or others who disagree with me. I’m sure their time around the sport has made them wise just as my 30 plus years of playing and covering football has made me.

You can reach me at dion@prepskc.com