Friday, June 17, 2016


Some middle school parents are upset that Columbia High School football coaches were recruiting at their youngster's school this week with claims that the team practiced a "safe" form of football.

A letter from seven South Orange Middle School parents to the district, SOMS principal Lynn Irby and Superintendent John Ramos, objected to such recruitment during school hours.

The letter stated, in part:

Earlier this week, we learned that the Columbia High School football team and coaching staff visited SOMS to "recruit" our sons for the football team. They were the only sports team to do so during the school day, and they did so without informing parents ahead of time. We also learned that at the meeting they told our sons that football was "not dangerous because they teach 'Heads Up' tackling."  Many of our sons came home ready to play, and are now angry at parents who do not want them to.
As you know, these past years have revealed - in detail not previously known - that playing football, even without head-to-head or helmet-to-helmet contact carries with it a great risk of CTE, which can lead to brain damage, mental illness, dementia, and suicide later in life. The unfortunate suicides of NFL legends Mike Webster, Dave Duerson, and Junior Seau, among others, has raised the profile and specter of whether football is safe and can be made safe.  The NFL itself is in the process of settling a massive class action litigation related to head injuries. The book *League of Denial *and movie *Concussion *have helped to bring these concerns to the greater public.
Significantly, these risks are not only borne by the relative small number of players who play professionally in the NFL, but by the millions of children who play Pop Warner, High School Football, and College Football. Our children. According to the Concussion Legacy Institute, 7 of 27 children's brains that have been tested, who only played football throughhigh school, have revealed CTE.  Among the deceased are teenagers, EricPelly, Joseph Chernach, Paul Bright, Mike Jenkins, and Nathan Stiles. 
Read the entire letter HERE.

We reached out to Ramos, Athletic Director Larry Buschio and District spokeswoman Suzanne Turner for comment. None have responded.

Ramos did respond to the parents saying he would "pay attention to this matter and follow-up accordingly." He later noted that the "information sessions were held during lunch period for any interested students."

The recruitment also occurred after the recent departure of head coach John Power, who left for a job with Morristown.