Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, March 23, 2024

MVNews this week:  Page 20



Mountain Views-News Saturday, March 23, 2024 


Let’s just start off by saying the following isn’t my 
“opinion.” We're talking about something important 
here: kids' brains. There are legitimate concerns 
regarding head injuries and long-term brain 
damage from boxing expressed by the American 
Medical Association, Centers for Disease Control, 
the American Academy of Neurology and 
the Brain Injury Association of America. The 
American Academy of Pediatrics vigorously opposes 
boxing as a sport for children and adolescents 
due to the risk of head injuries and other 
potential health consequences. These organizations 
have the facts. They have researched the 
risks. Still parents love to enroll their kids in boxing 
programs. Why?

Many argue that boxing can instill discipline, focus, 
and physical fitness in children. It requires 
dedication, hard work, and self-control, which 
can translate into valuable life skills. And yes, 
jumping rope, shadow boxing, hitting the pads 
and the bags are good forms of physical activity 
that can increase fitness abilities and health.

But there are physical and mental health risks. 
Boxing is also a combat sport that involves physical 
contact and can lead to injuries, including 
concussions and long-term brain damage. Children's 
bodies and brains are still developing, making 
them more susceptible to harm from repetitive 

Consider the emotional and psychological impact boxing can have on children too. While some 
kids may thrive in a competitive environment, others may find it stressful or damaging to their self-
esteem. Coaches and parents should be attentive to children's mental well-being and know if this 
type of aggressive combative sport is suited for each child.

Then there’s money. Scholarships, sponsorships, prize money; funding for training/travel, athletic 
endorsements are all powerful incentives. For underprivileged kids it offers opportunities for success, 
recognition, and escape from poverty and adversity.

The decision to involve children in boxing should involve informed consent from parents or guardians. 
To fully understand the risks and benefits associated with the sport and carefully consider 
whether it aligns with their child's interests, abilities, and well-being. If you’re considering boxing 
for your child do some thorough investigating. Read the studies, listen to the experts and keep your 
child’s temperament, physical abilities and interests foremost.

If children are involved in boxing, strict safety measures must be in place. Get specifics about appropriate 
protective gear such as headgear and mouthguards, proper coaching to emphasize technique 
and safety, and supervised sparring sessions to minimize the risk of injury. This includes information 
on age-appropriate training programs, limits on the duration and intensity of sparring sessions, 
and regular medical evaluations.

While boxing can offer certain benefits, there are also numerous alternative activities that can promote 
fitness, discipline, and character development without the inherent risks of combat sports. 
These include martial arts such as judo or taekwondo, team sports like soccer or basketball, or 
individual activities like swimming or gymnastics. Fencing is also gaining popularity, particularly 
among youth.

Combative sports are going to be in the news more in the near future, especially here in CA where 
there’s a push to ban tackle football for kids under age 12. Same reasons. To protect kids from 
the risk of brain damage. Studies on football players show that the longer a person plays the more 
likely they will suffer serious brain injuries. Specifically concussions and CTE (Chronic Traumatic 
Encephalopathy). Kids need all their brain cells and optimal brain function. There are many other 
sports and activities that can provide the same benefits without the same level of risk.

My own personal opinion? I don’t think any activity that encourages participants to hit each other 
in the head is a good one. Especially when it comes to kids. Participating in such activities from 
a young age may desensitize children to violence and reinforce aggressive behaviors as a means of 
conflict resolution. Children’s brains are still growing, not fully developed until they reach their 
mid-twenties. I wouldn’t risk having my child play ANY kind of sport based on intentional repeated 
blows to the head. Having a master’s in psychology, I’m biased into thinking that kids need their 
full cognitive function for academics, memory and learning. Head injuries can produce emotional 
and behavioral changes too like irritability, mood swings and aggression which can have a negative 
effect on their long-term relationships. Plus, we're not sure how many neurological diseases are 
caused by repeated brain injuries

Why not consult the pros about these risks? Who better to ask about brain injuries than boxing 
legends like Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson? Or football stars like Junior Seau, Mike 
Webster, Dave Duerson, or Aaron Hernandez? Oh that’s right we can’t ask them. They’ve all died. 
All gone before hitting 67. All except Muhammad Ali, who battled Parkinson's Disease for a whopping 
32 years, managing to stick around until 74.


NFL DRAFT - Combine and Scouting

On top of everything else that is going on in sports, it’s soon 
coming up to the NFL Draft days. I’ve been through lots of these 
in my time, but it seems more crazy every year. Why? Draft 
choices can mean the difference between winning and losing 
for teams. AND for those scouts and evaluators it can mean the 
difference between keeping and losing your job! Evaluations 
of players before the draft is so important. You can’t make a 
mistake. Draftees must make your permanent roster, and your 
number one picks better be great ones!

Real evaluation begins when a player enters college, and goes on the entire season. NFL 
divides areas into regions and each team has scouts for each region. No school is too small 
to have players evaluated. A scout better not miss a player, no matter what the level of competition. 
If someone else finds this player in your region.. Questions are asked. A scout will 
spend all day on the campus, watching teams… practicing, drilling, working out, playing in 
a game situation. When they see a potential player, they watch films, talk to coaches, equipment 
men, trainers, academic people. They want to see situations and skills and personalities. 
They go back to the hotel in whatever city they are in, and write up a report on their 
observations. Reports are recorded and filed and reviewed.

The “Combine” is held every year in Indianapolis. The top 300 college players in the country 
are invited to attend. Head coaches, position coaches and staffs attend the event. Players are 
tested in all areas size, speed, agility, attitude, height, weight. You mention it, it is graded. 
A lot of eyeballing going on during these days. The combine days are televised, players are 
interviewed, commentators are discussing and predicting where certain players are going. 
So not only professionals and the media can judge, so can the general public watching TV. 
Some players do not participate in the Combine…why? Afraid of injury… of not performing 

Then comes, “pro day” on school campuses when NFL team representatives are invited to 
the campus for more observing and discussion and personal interviews. This is when teams 
are looking at certain positions once again, and can see those who may not have participated 
in the Combine. Before all of theses are a few “all star” games. Top prospects are asked to 
play in the Shrine bowl, the Senior Bowl etc and NFL staff are there to coach these games 
and to watch what happens. Now prospects are seen in full uniform, playing and doing individual 
drills and going against an opponent. 

Teams and drafts and prospects become more important as money becomes a real issue 
and players are looked at as valued items. I’ve been through this process with several of my 
players, Randall Cunningham, Ickey Woods, Terrell Davis. Up until the last moment of the 
drafting process teams are calling college coaches to ask “just one more question.” Scouting 
reports are very critical to teams. What if you missed a great player that another team recognized 
and drafted. What if you strongly recommended a player who was drafted and he did 
not pan out at the position and skill the team wanted or needed. Evaluating and predicting 
outcomes is key. Some examples: 

I got a call from the Eagles about Randall Cunningham. He was the first quarterback taken 
in the second round of the draft. Several teams passed on him. I told the Eagles he was MVP 
of our conference, East /West Shrine team MVP, player of the game in the Japan Bowl. I told 
them if you pass on him you will be fired cuz another team will win with him. His rookie 
year, Buddy Ryan used him as the 3rd down QB with the question: “will he run, pass or 
punt.” He is now in the College Football Hall of Fame. 

Ickey Woods didn’t play in high school his senior year in Fresno because of a knee injury. We 
offered him a scholarship based on his junior year performance. We were the only school to 
offer him a scholarship. The Bengals drafted him and he played in the Super Bowl against 
San Franscisco …. And he did introduce us to the “Ickey Shuffle” celebration in the end 

Terrell Davis out of San Diego is in the NFL Hall of Fame. I insisted that Long Beach State 
give him a scholarship. We were the only school to recruit him out of high school. He was 
the 191st player drafted in the NFL draft. I tried to tell them take him higher but they did 
not listen. His team with John Elway’s Broncos won the Super Bowl. 

College football is a great game! I hope it isn’t ruined with all the money and greed issues 
with teams and players. And I say to football players, “Don't worry, wherever you go. Your 
time will come if you are good enough.” They will find you!

Follow me at harvey or @coachhyde on X 

Michele Silence, M.A. is a 37-year certified fitness 

professional who offers semi-private/virtual fitness 
classes. Contact Michele at michele@kid-fit.
com. Visit her Facebook page at: michelesfitness 
Visit her Facebook page at: michelesfitness.

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