In 1984 I told my assistant coaches that I hate injuries in football. Hate, not dislike, not mild contemptâ€¦ hate. â€œItâ€™s a part of the game,â€ one of them said. â€œBullshit,â€ I said. â€œNo it isnâ€™t. Injuries are not a part of the game. Injuries are apart from the game. Our job is to keep injuries apart from the game, not a part of the game.â€
History doesnâ€™t repeat itself. We repeat history. Dual meaning. Iâ€™ve had that exact same conversation over and over again right up to last season. â€œInjuries are a part of the gameâ€™â€™ is the single-most dangerous belief in football. Itâ€™s lame justification for accepting player deaths. Itâ€™s a weak excuse for accepting catastrophic injury â€“ paralysis, brain damage, broken necks, and shredded body parts. I have banned the phrase, â€˜â€™Injuries are a part of the gameâ€™â€™ from our program. Itâ€™s been deleted from our language. Itsâ€™ been replaced by, â€œInjuries are apart from the game.â€
Our written injury prevention program is a matter of life and death. The two major elements are Lifting and SWAT Tackling. I banned two things after my winless rookie head coach season in 1984 â€“ shoulder- tackling and not lifting.
Shoulder-tackling and not lifting are the two biggest threats to player safety. Â We have a perfect record of no one dying, no one paralyzed for life, no broken necks, no reported defensive concussions. I love football as much as anyone, maybe more because I coach for free and pay to coach. Coaching has cost me a fortune. I will never buy into the cavalier bullshit brainwashing that injuries are a part of the game, that injuries are some twisted rite of passage to manhood, and that the fate of civilization is at stake if parents decide to prevent their children from playing football. The toughest human I ever met never played football. My father Antonio hated football. He hated all sports. Antonio was a poor, immigrant, illiterate Italian who went through hell fighting in wars, fighting poverty, fighting depression, fighting unimaginable struggles that I have never experienced. Antonio had more character than any human I have ever met. And he never played one down of football.
I am blessed to have experienced countless Sacred Memories during 40 unpaid coaching seasons but I have seen just as much disrespect of the sport, especially by the delusional who threaten themselves and their teammates by trying to play a violent, combat sport while unfit for duty. Football is a matter of life and death. It is unimaginable and unconscionable for young people to die or become paralyzed for life, for the sake of playing a game. And it is equally unimaginable and unconscionable to shrug off death and catastrophic injury as being â€œa part of the game.â€™â€™ Do yourself a favour for liability purposes â€“ ban that statement from your program, in writing. Prohibit anyone from saying, â€˜â€™Injuries are part of the game.â€ Replace it with, â€˜â€™Injuries are apart from the game.â€™â€™ Ask your lawyer if you donâ€™t believe me.
I have produced a video and e-book that explains our SWAT Tackling curriculum. Check out a FREE preview of SWAT Tackling here.
Blessings and all good things to you and your players.
Gino Arcaro M.Ed., B.Sc., Level 3 NCCP (Natâ€™l Coaching Certification Program)
Head coach â€“ Niagara X-Men Football
Owner â€“ X Fitness Inc.
Blogs – www.GinoArcaro.com and www.SWATFootball.ca