Children and Football Safety



What do you think about the future of football? John Moffitt, who played football for nearly 20 years, recently gave up $1million and quit the NFL because he didn’t want to further risk his health. He had concluded he was a pawn in a machine that controlled his life and no longer wanted to play for the money and to please others.




17-year old Kendrick Calkins wrote, “I visited a practice with my old team, the Castro Valley Trojans, where I saw some head butting going on. It’s been illegal to ram someone with the top of your helmet in high school football for years, but it still happens because with your head down you can get more leverage and more power behind your hit. Coaches find it’s hard to teach against effectiveness. But a hard tackle can have a price. According to a survey by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, young athletes across all sports suffer 300,000 concussionseach year.




Now, with a growing body of evidence linking football to chronic brain injury and the recent publication of the book League of Denial, there’s more concern about the safety of the game. Some high schools are trying to change how teams play and practice, but they have a long way to go…” Calkins’ article, Is your school protecting your head? was in the SF Chronicle October 29, 2013. “I’ve been around football my whole life. My family loves the game, and started me in a Pop Warner league when I was 7. At that age, I just liked having a sport that gave me permission to hit.




“While comparing high school football safety and new NFL standards, I went to local schools and found many stories about injuries, and even a high school football commissioner questioning whether he would let his own kids play.”




 Recently I saw the excellent PBS Frontline documentary on the NFL and brain damage. And I read that children with brain injuries are nearly twice as likely to suffer from depression, published in an article by the American Academy of Neurology October 26. Researchers sought to identify the prevalence of depression in children with brain injuries, including concussions, in the U.S.“15 percent of those with brain injuries or concussions in 2007 were diagnosed as depressed—a 4.9 fold increase compared to other children. Study author Matthew C. Wylie, MD, said, ‘After adjustment for known predictors of depression in children like family structure, developmental delay and poor physical health, depression remained two times more likely in children with brain injury or concussion.’”




17-year old Kendrick Calkins continued, “In California, which has the second-largest number of high school football players in America, there is no limit on tackling in practice, even though that’s what the NFL does to protect players. And when a player has a concussion, it can be hard to identify…. The injury won’t even show up on an X-ray. So how do we know when someone has this kind of injury to the brain?




“One teenager I talked to… got a concussion during a practice, but it was not immediately diagnosed. During the next game, he kicked three successful field goals, but on the fourth he didn’t know which direction he was supposed to be kicking. His coach pulled him from the game and he was later diagnosed with a concussion.




“If it’s up to us players, we’ll stay on the field as long as we can. You never want to get pulled out of a game or practice.




“Football is a tough sport, and the game prizes toughness in its players. You feel weak when you sit out, and your injury hurts more when you let your team down. But football is not just about physical sacrifice; it’s also about smarts. You have to be able to read the plays, and you have to know when it’s safe.




“That’s something parents and teenagers have to think through together. Does your school’s team have a medically trained person on staff? Does the team limit tackling in practice? Do players get a baseline medical exam before the season starts? It’s worth asking these questions before you join a team. However you look at it, football’s a dangerous game. Even so, it’s my favorite sport by far.”






Read my 4-part blog, “Young People Talk About the Enneagram and Death.


Visit “The Career Within You” on FaceBook.


Visit to check out my books, CD, cartoons, essays, music, and Famous Enneagram Types.


What are the Advantages of Using the Enneagram When Grieving?

The Enneagram of Death

The Enneagram of Death

         A NYC Death Café member kindly brought to my attention that I have posted blogs about the Enneagram with little explanation of what the Enneagram is. The Enneagram personality system holds there are 9 ways (plus variations) of being in the world. When you find your own type you soon realize the other 8 types are equally important, legitimate, and necessary. This leads to the invaluable concept that there are many ways to grieve—there’s no one right way. The Enneagram is used all over the world for self-growth, relationships, getting along in the workplace, child-raising, and careers. It fosters acceptance and teaches us who we are. It is a useful tool for anyone who is struggling with grief, fear of death, or dying.


         The word “Enneagram” (pronounced “An’y-a-gram”), comes from the Greek word, Ennea, for nine, and gram, meaning a drawing:


Enneagram figure

The Enneagram (“Any-a-gram”)


         The Enneagram is increasingly used and recommended by psychologists and coaches. You can profit from knowing a little about it, but it’s complex enough to become a life-long study. It shows us in a positive light by highlighting our gifts. Since it is based on real people it points out our defects as well. The Enneagram models change and growth and helps us become better inner observers and more keenly aware of others. We don’t use it to point fingers but to reveal our habits of behaving and to become more mindful of our strengths, needs, and likely pitfalls. Families, love relationships, work situations, and teacher-pupil relationships improve from using the Enneagram. The best introduction is my book, The Enneagram Made Easy, followed by Are You My Type, Am I Yours?  I’ve drawn cartoons in all my Enneagram books and in my book on introversion (The Happy Introvert) to increase accessibility, to help readers feel relaxed, and to add complexities not found in words.


         The Enneagram system describes these nine personality types or archetypes: Perfectionist, Helper, Achiever, Romantic, Observer, Questioner, Adventurer, Asserter, and Peace Seeker. The types to the sides of each type (“wings”) influence our personalities as do the two types at the end of the lines attached to them within the circle (“arrows”).


         While we relate to all nine Enneagram, types in varying degrees, we indentify as only one. For example, Asserters are natural leaders who tend to be decisive, strong, confident, and dominating. Someone of this type can’t at the same time be a gentle Peace Seeker, who wishes to avoid conflict. We’re all familiar with the skeptical Questioner, the ever-harmonizing Helper, and the upbeat Adventurer. 


         I once had a request on my Face Book home page to join a group called “Knowing the Difference Between ‘Their,’ ‘There,’ and ‘They’re.’” Of all the types, Perfectionists are the most likely to be so interested in correct spelling and grammar—in getting things right. A good example of this type is Hillary Clinton due to her idealism, the measured way she speaks, and the careful way she dresses and carries herself. We all probably had this type as a teacher somewhere along the line.


Each chapter of The Enneagram of Death (see reviews here) is made up of contributions by a different Enneagram type—stories, poems, and essays I have chosen and lightly edited. Their defenses against grief and fear range from spacing out to over-worrying to over-doing. These are healthy and natural reactions unless they go on too long. You’ll distinguish how people with characteristics similar to and different from yours cope with the shock of a loved one’s death, end-of-life care giving situations, and more. You’ll see how some other cultures deal with death. You’ll especially resonate with your own type. The Enneagram of Death (available here) isa more individualized way of looking at death and dying than many other books on this subject. Stories of types different from yours will offer you new perspectives.


        The Enneagram system provides tools, models, soothing, and inspiration. 


Check out Finding the Birthday Cake – Helping Children Raise Their Self-esteem – for teaching the Enneagram to children.


Read my Psychology Today blog: Why Studying Music is a Good Thing Part I


Visit The Enneagram of Parenting on Face Book.