The East Texas town of Marshall is in the news for dropping their 7th grade football program. But while reports say they did it for safety reasons, the man behind the idea told KTRH News a very different story.
The New York Times said that Marshall was doing this because of concerns over concussions, but coach and Athletic Director Clint Harper told KTRH those are not the reasons he told them.
“When I was in junior high we didn’t have 7th grade football. It goes back to tradition. The article in the New York Times says it had to do with concussions, but it really goes back to the way it was done when I was here,” Harper said.
Harper says Marshall has had success in football even without having 7th grade football.
“We’ve played in three state championships over the last 15, 20 years now and all three of those teams never played 7th grade football,” Harper stated.
It's not that safety isn't a concern. It is. Harper says the bigger concern is teaching the kids at that age to play the right way.
“I’m not against contact football, but we have to have coaches teaching fundamentals. We have to have coaches teaching kids how to properly tackle,” Harper explained.
“There’s nobody that loves football more than I do. I think it’s the greatest game ever made. But if we’re going to play kids in a contact sports at such a young age we have to teach them proper fundamentals,” Harper told KTRH.
Harper says his father, a Hall of Fame coach in East Texas, didn't let him play until he was in the 8th grade, and it didn't hurt him at all. He went on to play on the college level.