Larry Fedora, head football coach at University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, said Wednesday that the game of football is “under attack.”
Speaking to reporters during press Atlantic Coach Conference (ACC) media days, Fedora said he believes the sport is a large part of American culture, and that what’s happening right now in football could change the game a decade down the road.
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“I fear that the game will be pushed so far from what we know that we won’t recognize it 10 years from now,” Fedora said. “And if it does, our country will go down, too.”
The coach said football is “safer right now than it’s ever been,” acknowledging that while players do suffer injuries — “it’s a violent sport” — those who play understand “those risks.”
He alleged those who argue football is unsafe are “twisting data and the information out there to use for whatever their agenda is,” adding that he doesn’t think “it’s been proven that the game of football causes CTE.”
Fedora did, however, tell reporters that “tweaking” the sport for “the betterment for the health and safety of players — you’re doing a great thing.”
The Tar Heels coach added that the life lessons learned while playing football “relay to everything that’s gonna happen in the rest of your life,” and said the game has “had a major impact on who we are as a country.”
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Fedora said that years ago he asked a three-star military general why the armed forces of the U.S. are greater than other countries’.
The general, according to the coach, said: “That’s easy. We’re the only football-playing nation in the world. He said most of all of our troops have grown up, have played the game at some point in their life at some level, and the lessons that they learned from that game is what makes us who we are.”
Fox News’ Samuel Chamberlain and The Associated Press contributed to this report.