Altus parents speak out after city puts end to tackle football

ALTUS, Okla. – Changing the rules – leaders in an Oklahoma town are doing away with tackle football starting this year.

It’s a decision some folks who live in Altus aren’t too happy with.

Kids in Altus who want to learn how to play tackle football now have to go out of town to do so. And, some parents and a player said it frustrates them.

“It’s kind of like taking something away from them,” said Taylor Alton, a mother.

Alton has watched her son, Mason, play tackle football for Altus the past five years. She said she was shocked when the city decided to take it away.

“It was a little frustrating in the beginning because our boys have put a lot of effort into practicing the right way so they don’t get hurt and they know the right things to do, so it was kind of a blow to some of the boys because they didn’t know where they were going to get to play real football,” Alton said.

Some parents feel different.

Victoria Cleveland thinks it’s good thinking by the city. She said her son has played all his life, even now while he’s in college.

Cleveland said he took several hits in elementary school.

“He said, when he would have the hits, you know, the really hard hits that make you start to see colors,” Cleveland said. “I said ‘How often do you think that happened while you were playing?’ and he said ‘Around 20 times or more a season.'”

Alton said she understands the city’s concern about safety but the coaches have done a good job teaching the kids the proper ways to play so that won’t happen.

“I am always concerned about safety,” Alton said. “I want to do things the right way. I don’t want my kid to get hurt. I want him to know the right way to do things. He loves football. He’s going to play it.”

The city’s parks and recreation director, Christopher Griffith, said it’s still hard for them to watch out for each kid.

“It was really just a decision because we have all volunteer coaches,” Griffith said. “It’s really tough to manage that safety and make sure that all of our players are safe.”

Alton said her son will still play tackle. But, now, they have to travel all across the state to get the experience.

“We will be playing in Cache, Anadarko, Weatherford, Lawton,” Alton said. “So, it will be a lot. It will be some traveling, but it will be worth it for them to get to play.”

Registration for flag football started Wednesday. The city said, so far, there’s still been a good turnout.