Today I want to recognize and thank a private football group out of the Pacific Northwest that has not always been someone I would closely work with. To all of you prep football groups and coaches out there who struggle with the Private Vs Public side of High School ball I say this. Pay attention to what is happening.
Barton Football is a name synonymous with private training of QB’s and skill players, camps, combines, clinics, and now 7 on 7 tournaments. Started by Greg Barton and now run by Taylor Barton the Seattle based business is a juggernaut in the High School and youth football space. They have faced many critics in the past few years, none of which I will admit more critical then I.
They are involved with the money side of the sport and while it is considered “ugly” in many ways it is here to stay. The Barton’s are not doing anything different then Nike, FBU, NUC, Rivals Camp Series, etc; other then doing more of it and keeping it focused here in the NW. So let me be clear– I am a High School football supporter and I will always back the High School coaches and what they are trying to accomplish first.
Having said that I want to be clear on the other side of the coin as well. All of the positional coaches and camps I have supported are involved in the “private side” of the business. Because the WIAA and OSAA rules prevent teams from having an off season in any sport the need and demand for Private training exists. Businesses like Barton Football exist because the market demands it and let’s not get things twisted. Baseball, basketball, and soccer (both girls and boys) have lead the charge to AAU and club sports and they have done it year around. here are not enough bank vaults in the City of Portland to hold all the cash they have reaped over the years.
Now that football is on the path, via 7 on 7 and off season camps, to being a year around sport people are waking up to and voicing opinions about groups like Bartons. I know I was the first one pointing all the bad issues with this out 10 years ago.
Our State bodies are sitting on antiquated policies and ideals that by limiting the involvement a school can have with their athletes in any given sport, they are encouraging kids to do 2 or 3 sports. It is an admirable goal but no longer a realistic one. Therefore I am in favor of our schools having full access to limited but meaningful year around workouts provided limited contact and safety is stressed first and foremost.
When I was asked to have NWPR help cover the athletes at Barton’s 7 on 7 events in Seattle and Portland I said “No”. Taylor Barton asked me what he could do to change my mind knowing I am not a 7 on 7 supporter. So I was clear- put protective helmets on 100% of the kids and I will. He researched it agreed and I arranged for him to get the gold standard helmet, in the form of the Gamebreaker Protective helmet, at cost.
Barton Football Academy is the First group – including High Schools – that has made this crucial and much needed protective gear a requirement. First in the NW and one of the first in the Nation. So for this I salute Taylor Barton and his group and want to recognize them for this amazing change in direction.
As the NW Rep for Gamebreaker Helmets let me offer ALL OF YOU PARENTS AND COACHES THIS – HELMETS AT 100% WHOLESALE COST – NO PROFIT TO ME!
The rest of the Story- This is why the Barton decision to protect is so crucial
On May 6th former Sheldon High QB and Barton Football QB Coach received an email from Brad Garrett, Assistant Executive Director of the OSAA. That email warned Barton Football that the use of “protective gear” in the form of the Gamebreaker Helmet would under OSAA rules trigger the start of the 10 day contact period which Oregon High School teams can have in the off season; prior to daily doubles. The result of any Oregon High School team participating in this event (Rose City Rumble), which requires for safety purposes the wearing of said helmets, would be that their 10 days of Contact had started. No team wants their 10 days of contact to start because once it does the clock runs 10 days straight.
Brad was right to notify Alex and in essence to prevent violations and he is to be commended for that. The rule was clearly not written to be punitive to anyone trying to protect our athletes. But the result is that in an effort to work with us to protect the athletes the Barton group was/is being penalized.
Now here is where things get tricky- and you COACHES and AD’s and Principals and school board members read this. The email we sent to the OSAA on behalf of Gamebreaker and all of our kids makes this very important- and and excerpt from that email is inserted here:
“Now on the bigger issue- Protecting the kids.I am the area Rep for Gamebreaker Helmets who has the only Brain Certified design for 7 on 7 protective helmets. There is NO ONE else in the space. I make $0 on these helmet sales- for me it is all about protection. We all know that 7 on 7 is growing out of control and also that the injuries, liability, and litigation is on the uptake big time.Taylor and Alex asked me to support the events they are doing and I said NO as there are just too many issues. I did however give them and Barton Football the option to get the kids in the helmets and get them protected. If they agreed to make the investment I agreed to cover the event.They took that move- something no one else has including our High Schools.While debate rages I want to offer my appreciation to these guys for protecting our kids. Brad and Tom (Welter) I want to challenge you to get behind this effort and work hard to make sure that all kids in Oregon are protected at public or private 7 on 7 events and fields.At this moment in time I can assure you all that attorneys here in the State, including the lawyer representing a former Lake Oswego player, are watching and waiting for a chance to strike. The standards of care that are commonly acceptable and incumbent on all of us and all coaches now make it unconscionable to hold or support a 7 on 7 event without protective gear on the head.Dr James Chestnutt of your Sports Safety Committee, who I have CC’d here, I know is a man of high character and while I have not spoken to him extensively on this issue I would guess he will concur that 7 on 7 needs to be banned or we need to protect the kids. To me waiting is not an option nor will it be an excuse in the event of a catastrophic injury or God forbid a death.In conclusion I want to extend the offer to the OSAA and all of it’s members to have the discounted rate on this awesome product and to require their athletes wear these helmets wherever they go for 7 on 7. The rule may be the rule but I must tell you the OSAA is the only State body in the Nation we know of that views the helmet as “protective gear” in a way that it triggers the 10 day rule. I believe that needs to immediately change or kids are going to get hurt if coaches choose to compete at events prior to their planned start of the 10 day contact period.Something about Brad’s letter immediately seems punitive on the Rose City Rumble and I know it should not but it does. It is counter intuitive that we would punish in essence teams and events that wish to attend and compete at a 7 pm 7 event and be protected. On the flip side we would have no issues with the same teams going to a similar event where they are not going to be protected.Can you see the dilemma and the liability for such an event and how the OSAA is in fact backing itself into a corner?If Beaverton, for instance, had the choice to send their team lead by Sam Noyer who is the top rated QB in the State to one of two events ( 1 requiring Gamebreaker Helmets and the other No Helmet) they would be forced more or less to go to the event without protective helmets in order to preserve their 10 days of Contact.Let’s imagine the Beavers go to a Team 7 on 7 with no helmets and a receiver on the squad goes head to head and suffers a cut and a grade 3 concussion, loss of memory, and a prolonged medical process to return to school and football. When his folks find out the team chose this event over the one where protection was required they are going to lawyer up and when they do not only Beaverton and the Coaches but the OSAA itself would be named.I love the OSAA and I care about all teams and kids- I have done so for 50 years now. I can be a supporter and critique at the same time and still have everyone’s best interest in mind. Right now I am warning you this rule and the outcome is severely fraught with issues.Until 7 on 7 is banned, which I doubt will happen anytime soon, I think we all better get on board and support safety and protection first.Guys you all do an amazing job- responses appreciated and I stand ready to help- 100%.Best wishesDirk”