Concern over concussions, the Bountygate scandal in New Orleans and stories of professional football players being arrested for various offenses have dominated headlines on the sports pages this summer. On Monday, young boys in Monroe were all smiles as they reminded onlookers that the game is supposed to be about good, clean fun.
Lions Coach Steve Christy led his players through their first American Youth Football practice of the season at Wolfe Park. Boys in shorts and T-shirts ran to the line of scrimmage and fired out. In another drill they ran pass patterns — catching bullets on quick slants and snagging perfectly thrown bombs over the shoulder while sprinting downfield.
On Tuesday morning, the Thrills & Skills clinic — a pass, punt and kick showcase — got underway for children ages 5-12.
"Right now football is under attack," Christy said of the negative news stories. "It's a great game. We incorporated it and took the skill and fundamentals of the game."
Thrills & Skills is non-contact and Christy said it is a great way for children to be introduced to the game of football.
Participants compete within their age group in a tournament and points are awarded for distance and accuracy of passes, punts and kicks. Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded and there are trophies at the end. Whoever excels at all three wins the overall competition.
Jake Dellapiano, 7, won five medals last year, according to Christy.
The football clinic is open to boys and girls and all children get T-shirts, snow cones and lunch. Thrills & Skills is held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.