League youth like Braith Groundwater will get the chance to compete among players a similar weight thanks to planned new changes.
League youth like Braith Groundwater will get the chance to compete among players a similar weight thanks to planned new changes. LEEROY TODD

Parents can be over-protective, but sometimes it's needed

RESHUFFLING junior league comps from age to weight and maturity will rub people the wrong way, and attract claims we've become "too protective”.

And they have merit.

Only last month, research found that helicopter parenting hinders children's ability to develop their own coping skills. In other words, wrapping children in cotton wool makes them easier to break.

But - and there is a but - safety can't be overlooked.

In the wake of research into the long-term effects of concussions, youth participation in American football - the country's beloved multi-billion dollar behemoth - dropped 5 per cent between 2016-17.

Safety for players like Owen Dutton will also be improved.
Safety for players like Owen Dutton will also be improved. LEEROY TODD

The sport is now undergoing a major safety overhaul.

Rugby league needs to do the same.

It is easy to sit on the sideline and bemoan sport becoming soft.

But if, as a child, you've ever stood reed-like on the field while a 12-year-old human freight train bore down on you (like I have), and had your tackle attempt end with all the majesty of a bug smacking into a Kenworth (like I have) - fully aware that your genetic make-up will never match theirs - then you know why this is good.

It's not about handing success to children on a silver platter. Even the best players still miss tackles. It's about making the challenge achievable, and ensuring they have fun while trying to meet it.

Gympie Times


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