CYO makes changes for player safety

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story by Todd Habiger
photos by Jay Soldner

Football can be a violent sport. Crushing tackles. Violent collisions. They’re all a part of the game.

But for many, particularly parents of young children, that game is of growing concern, especially with new data revealing the long-term impact repeated concussions can have on the brain.

Because of those concerns, the Catholic Youth Organization of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas has eliminated tackle football at the third- and fourth- grade levels this year.

“The health and safety of our children is a priority, so we have taken proactive steps to assure that the programs we offer are both high quality and safe for all children,” said Peter Piscitello, CYO executive director.

Flag football has now taken the place of tackle football and has quickly become very popular. So popular, in fact, that CYO will expand its flag football program to include kindergarten and first-grade teams next year.

Piscitello said that there is even a growing interest at the fifth- through eighth-grade levels.

“Flag football can be a tremendous way to teach the fundamentals of football at a young age,” said Piscitello. “Perhaps most importantly, the sport provides an inexpensive and fun entry into the sport of football. Kids learn a love of the game in a safe environment that encourages involvement from all players. Everyone gets to run, pass, catch and score in a fast-paced game.”

Some of that fast-paced action was on display on Sept. 24 at Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park as second- graders from Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa and St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City, Kansas, squared off, followed by a third-grade matchup featuring teams from St. Agnes Parish in Roeland Park and St. Joseph Parish in Shawnee.

With the sun shining and moderate temperatures, it was a perfect day for football. And no one got hurt.

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