Irv Cross, CBS sportcaster, said yesterday that it is important for children to participate and have fun in football and not to be too concerned with professional football's winning-is-everything philosophy.
Cross addressed a crowd of 300 parents, coaches and young football players at the National Football League Alumni's Red Grange Parent/Youth Clinic at Blair High School in Silver Spring.
"The purpose behind our program," Cross said, "is to develop the proper skills and attitudes while working with coaches, athletes and parents. We're not concerned with winning, but we are attempting to have kids understand what they are getting involved with and to enjoy what they are doing."
Over 150 boys, ranging in age between nine and 15, attended the clinic, in its initial year. Vic Maitland, NFL Alumni executive director, said the program came about after extensive research conducted by the alumni association found boys losing interest in the game due to the pressures put on them by both coaches and parents. Maitland and the alumni association hopes to have a Red Grange Clinic in every franchise city within two years.
The clinic was a reunion of sorts for about 15 former and current Redskin players, who were involved with demonstrating fundamental skills to the young players.
"I wouldn't want my kid playing football until the junior high level," Mark Moseley said. "Soccer is a better sport for youngsters to get a good start in. It allows the body time to mature and time for the muscles to strengthen and there isn't the collision contact prevalent in so many plays in football."
Former tackle Bill Brundige said that any age was right for a young boy to begin playing football. "The key is in finding out who is coaching," Brundige said. "The coaches who instill winning by preaching it to these kids can only harm them."
Coaches who scream and parents who insist on seeing their child succeed through sports are problems that need immediate attention through education, said Dr. Stanford Lavine, the Redskin team physician. "Too many coaches don't know how to deal with young boys and their emotions. There is a serious need for proper selection of coaches." Education of both coaches and parents on issues pertaining to young athletes, he said, must be done with all sitting down together before a season begins.
"These kids are overstressed, too," Lavine said, after viewing a brief movie depicting 9-year-olds doing strenous leg lifts and wind sprints. "They read about Randy White bench pressing 450 pounds, and they all think this is what they have to do."