Back in the 1980s, when Buddy Curry was playing linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons, they didn’t have concussions.
“They were called dings,” he said, though they really were concussions.
Now concern over those injuries has led the Falcons, along with Curry and his nonprofit, Kids & Pros, to hold camps to teach players, coaches and parents the right way to play to avoid those injuries. They are holding a free Heads Up Clinic and parent information session for players ages 6-14 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. today at Grovetown High School.
Concerns about concussions have risen, particularly in the NFL, Curry said.
“What’s happened now is you see a lot more concussions that are being brought forth,” he said. “Most people think they’ve been there all along. They’re brought forth because we are getting more information about concussions.”
That has prompted Georgia and nearly every other state to adopt rules about when a child suspected of a concussion should be held out of sports and when they should be allowed to return.
It has also led to a re-evaluation of proper hitting and how that should be taught, Curry said.
“The kids are going to do what they are instructed to do,” he said. “So what we’ve got to do is take a fresh look at the game, a fresh look at not only what we’re teaching but why we are teaching it.”
The Heads Up clinics are part of that. For Lemuel Lackey, the head football coach at Lucy C. Laney High School, it is about stressing the basics first.
“I don’t know if all coaches are spending enough time working the fundamentals,” he said. “It’s hard because kids just want to get to the end result but I think you have to force the issue, and force them to drill and go through the little things on a daily basis.”
Little things can help prevent injury by stressing the proper form, Lackey said.
“It’s about getting your body and your feet in the right position and getting a good posture when you perform a task, especially with hitting and tackling,” he said. “That’s vital. Nowadays, that’s vital.”
It’s important because parents and players know more about safety concerns, Lackey said.
“Parents are smarter, kids are smarter and football is a much safer sport than what it used to be,” he said.
Addressing those concerns is a big part of the parent session, Curry said.
“People are just learning about the issues,” he said. “What we want to do is we want to inform parents. We want to take a lot of the fear out of parents. If you have information, you can make better decisions.”