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Statement from our President

February 16, 2018

In the video above, Jason Kelce crystalizes the lessons learned in playing tackle football. If you have not seen his deep heartfelt appreciation from this Super Bowl LII Champ, it is worth a moment of your time. These same values of hard work, team work, overcoming adversity and sacrifice for others are taught and learned in our Southern Marin Youth Football Association. 
 
One week ago today, two Assembly members from California proposed a Bill to ban youth football in our state. As the President of the Southern Marin Youth Football Association, I want to publicly denounce the intentions and unfortunate position that has been taken by these CA Assembly members.
 
You can read the articles online, and when you do, notice the language. Assembly Members McCarty (D-Sacramento) and Fletcher (D-San Diego) want you to be afraid of tackle football. Football, like many activities, has risk. Do the research, and you’ll find data to support many different and conflicting opinions. In my experience, as a President of a youth football non-profit organization, and youth football coach since 2008, I have lost more football players to concussions from outside football, like school yard recess, than my football practices or games. 
 
The truth is, the sport is evolving, thanks to many of us who believe in football. In fact, many other youth sports, like lacrosse, rugby, soccer, and cheerleading have opportunities to be more safe as well. We also need to provide a safer environment on playgrounds, trampolines, and even lunch-time recess. The list is long of where safety improvements can be made for our children, including and beyond the football fields. 

My fellow youth football administrators, coaches, players, and parents have taken action and continue to assertively move to make football safer each year. In fact, its never been safer to play football. Our Association is entering the 5th year of a head safety policy that includes the best practices that we have been able to source in addition to leading edge helmet sensor technology for the safety of our players and the advancement of the sport that we love. 

Rest assured that we are not done yet. We have more work to do. We are under a microscope, thanks to the high profile of football in our country. We appreciate the risks more than anyone else because we love this sport more than anyone else. Nobody in the world wants our beloved sport to be safer than us, because teaching the values described in Jason Kelce’s video and herein, mean the world to us, and they are uniquely learned through the great sport of tackle football. 

Mr. McCarty and Ms. Fletcher, I am deeply disappointed with your fearful proposal. You are overstepping your responsibilities by proposing the elimination of an entire sport for my son and the thousands of young men and women who play this sport. Playing football is and should remain a freedom for a player and family to make a choice. Why do you feel the need to take over parenting decisions for us?

You would be helpful if you called for more investment and advancement of our sport. I challenge you and others who want to pursue extreme measures like those in your proposal, to re-approach this topic with less intimidation and more genuine respect and concern for the youth in our country. We are Americans, and we don’t give into fear or intimidation. In fact, we step into the chaos and find ways to make things work. We need a more harmonious approach that includes a multi-disciplined community from medicine, academia, education, athletics, and business. We need to continue our current path to progress and accelerate the depth of our understanding, as reflected in this Star Tribune Article. Consider this letter my invitation to you, to join me and the thousands of others in our great country to take action to make youth sports safer, including and not limited to football.

For the parents and student-athletes who want to play the great sport of football, I personaly commit to exhaust my efforts for your rights. You deserve the choice to teach the values of teamwork, hard work, overcoming adversity, and sacrifice for others via the great sport of football.
 
Lets keep the focus on evolving our sport. Let us not naively fall victim to a mentality of fear of what football might do TO our children, rather let us relentlessly continue to make football safer because of what it can do FOR our children.

Please join our cause by signing our change.org petition by clicking here.

Joe Rafter
President Southern Marin Youth Football
president@southernmarinfootball.com
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