Charlotte Jones Anderson, Dallas Cowboys executive vice president and chairwoman of the NFL Foundation, visited with the Intentional Grounding program on KTCK-AM radio and spent some time sharing her thoughts on health and safety as they apply to youth football.
IG: As someone with two sons who do play football and your capacity on this foundation — which is also tied in with health and safety in all youth sports, especially football — can you talk a little about the initiative and how you view what can be done there in the larger context of the discussion that’s going on now about concussions?
CA: Sure, absolutely. I love this game. I love everything about football. I love the competition of it. I love watching kids play it. I love it at every level. I think there’s so many benefits that the game has itself, outside of an entertainment standpoint. And to me, it is about playing the game and playing it safely. And I think we have, obviously, the best platform — with our visibility, who we are, what our game is — to be able to help raise awareness to how you can play this game and play it safely and be able to put your children in situations that you don’t second guess. And, you know, for me as a parent — I do have two children — one is playing youth football in fifth grade and the other plays high school football. I wouldn’t change it for a minute. I do know a lot about the game, so every time I yell at my son, I’m always telling him to hold his head up and not tackle with his head down. I know how to respond to an injury. I think it’s our situation, our position, to be able to tell other parents how to be able to respond. How to make sure you know that your coach is actually coaching in the right way. What’s so interesting is that you have all these great dads that are so excited about coaching — many of them who played the game themselves — and how we teach has really changed and has really evolved with an awareness to safety and really helping our kids do the sport and do it in an environment that is safe for everybody. We all have risk. Every day my kids walk out the door and get in their car. I cringe and hope that they make it to the next spot. There’s risk in everything we do. I think knowing what those risks are, knowing how to play it correctly is really what we have an opportunity to show people and help fund areas that can bring awareness to the right thing.
IG: How do you and how will you — and how will the foundation — move forward in terms of educating those coaches that you talk about, educating the parents and making sure that their kids are coached correctly and that their safety is first and foremost among the minds of those coaches?
CA: Well, you know, we actually have a great partnership with USA Football. And that’s an organization that is trying to create regulations to help coaches become certified, to provide videos and information for coaches who are teaching youth at all levels, to give the tools and resources out there not only to the coaches, but to the parents and to the kids themselves, so that they know what to do and how to do it correctly — that’s the No. 1 thing. The other thing is, you need to have some confidence that you can actually identify “Am I putting my child in a situation that’s best for him?” And I think the more that we learn as a parent, the more that we know about it, the better decisions that we’re able to make. And I look at this on all levels. I look at it with my daughter, who is a gymnast and also played lacrosse. They need to be wearing helmets. It’s the same thing of every aspect that we do with our kids in sports, we need to know as parents, what are we doing to protect our kids and what’s the best way to help them play the game safely? Because sports is great for children and we need to make sure that the awareness is there so that parents know what to do in the right situations.