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Should High Schools Cut Football?; Ways to Save on Mortgages

Aired March 10, 2012 - 09:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Is football just too rough for growing kids? Good morning, everybody. I'm Christine Romans.

Some of what your kids are coached to do on the field would be an assault anywhere else. As the National Football League deals with a scandal where players were rewarded for violently injuring their opponents, we wonder how far down that bounty mentality reaches. Add in the harm of hard hits on the brain, some parents this week wondering, hey, does football even belong in school? We ask former New York Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer.

Plus, from Sarah Palin to Sandra Fluke, is political rhetoric becoming demeaning, demeaning to women?

And four things you can do right now to save hundreds of dollars around the house.

But first, that bounty scandal rocking the NFL. Coaches and players admit to illegal bonuses for knocking opposing players out of the game. That's the pros. But what about high school players who love to emulate the superstars? What kind of message are they getting this week? We're joined by Amani Toomer, former New York Giants wide receiver. Will Cain, he's a CNN contributor, a father, and a football lover.


ROMANS: Amani, at the very highest level, the NFL, I mean, we are hoping this is an exception, not the rule. But we know that the competition among kids in high school is incredible. They get stickers on their helmets for sacks, for interceptions, for all kinds of different things, celebrations and accolades. What kind of message are they getting this week?

AMANI TOOMER, FMR. WIDE RECEIVER, NEW YORK GIANTS: Well, they're getting that it's not acceptable. Commissioner Goodell is not going to accept anything that is under board in terms of, you know, the extracurricular hits, anything that goes intentionally to try to hurt somebody. They're not going to accept that.

ROMANS: As a football player, you might have been, like, what are you talking about? You probably wonder about every hit you ever got.

TOOMER: Yes, you know, you definitely think back to some different times when I played. But I just think that it's more the exception than the rule because it's so hard to be successful in the NFL. And then to go out and try to do extra damage to another player, it's just too hard. The athletes are too good.

ROMANS: It's just the epitome of unsportsmanlike conduct. It's just horrible. But then you look at what happens in high school, right, where kids want to emulate these players on the field, I mean, they want to get out there and they want to win. Is this something that we even see little bits of hints of in high school football?

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Gosh, I hope not. You described me a couple of ways that are caveats for me in this conversation. I'm from Texas, football culture. I'm the father of two boys, which I would not be hesitant to put them into this sport.

ROMANS: You would put your sons in football?

CAIN: I think I would, Christine. Another thing is, I'm outrage- deficient, by the way. When I see stories like this, I generally lack some sense of outrage because everyone else -- it's so easily come to.

ROMANS: Your only deficiency in life.

CAIN: That my only deficiency. But having two boys, Amani, I have to tell you, young boys, I would put them in football, but this gives me a great hesitancy. And this is the issue. If violence is a by- product of the game, I think I'm OK with that. But if it's an objective, hurting someone, having them carted off becomes an objective, now I have a problem.

TOOMER: Yes, I've never been in a situation where that was the objective. And every NFL team, high school, college, nothing, it never went to a point where we're trying to injury somebody intentionally.

ROMANS: I'll tell you the interesting thing about leadership this week is that the way very quickly people started taking responsibility for this and not trying to push it under the rug. I mean, I don't know if you guys agree, but that was I think some sportsmanlike conduct in a very unsportsmanlike situation.

I want to look a clip quickly from the movie "The Blind Side."


SANDRA BULLOCK, ACTOR: Tony here is your quarterback, all right? You protect his blind side. When you look at him, you think of me, how you have my back, how you have his. OK?

Oompa-Loompa here is your tailback. When you look at him, you think of S.J. and how you would never let anyone or anything hurt him. Do you understand me?

All right. Go back. Got it?

QUINTON AARON, ACTOR: What about Collins and (INAUDIBLE)?

BULLOCK: Fine, they can be on the team too. Are you going to protect the family, Michael? AARON: Yes, ma'am.

BULLOCK: Good boy. Now go have some have fun.


ROMANS: I really, really, really love that movie. Sandra Bullock won the Oscar for her portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy, that's the real-life football mother of the Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher.

Now that kind of aggression is what got him into the NFL, but that aggression also makes football a very dangerous game. He's kind of a one in a million exception. You look at all the kids who are playing high school ball right now or playing high school football, it's 1.1 million kids.

Last year, what, 254 people were drafted into the NFL. Is it worth the risk? Is it worth the risk, the head injury risk, all the different risks out on the field for just such a slim shot to be someone like you?

TOOMER: Well, I think, you know, when you look at the draft and all the players, where they come from and where they're ultimately going, you can't look at the 1.1 million and think every one of those players wants to make the NFL. I think a lot of those players are just enjoying their experience, playing with their friends because I know my experience, I loved playing high school football and two of my closest friends today are still...

ROMANS: I love watching it.

TOOMER: Are still my players that I played high school with. And some of them had no aspiration of becoming NFL players.

ROMANS: Well, Leigh Anne Tuohy is interesting -- or Sandra Bullock or the character in that movie, interesting too because that's about parents and coaches and the breaks on the raw aggression are the adults who are around the kids.

In the case of the NFL bounty situation, the gas on the car was actually the people in charge. So this is about parents knowing the limits to their children.

CAIN: Well, but all the people involved in the NFL story we can say are adults. The players at this point should be treated as adults.

You know, it's interesting you ask about the risk situation. If your goal is to make it to the NFL, it's not worth the risk because your odds are so poor. But you have to ask yourself there are other things (INAUDIBLE), I'm sure Amani can testify, some sense of team development, some sense of responsibility...

ROMANS: Leadership.

CAIN: Leadership, right, work ethic. Then weigh those against those potential harms. That's the right calculus to make. Not whether or not I'm going to be the next Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, Amani Toomer, because, by the way, odds are against you.

ROMANS: I know they are. But when you've got somebody sitting next to you right in the flesh, you think, maybe you could do it.

CAIN: He's pretty big, but I don't know if he's as big as I thought.


TOOMER: That's not by choice, that's...


TOOMER: But I wanted to go on your point and you have got to not look at just people that go to the NFL, you have got to look at how many people get educated, get an opportunity to go to great universities...

CAIN: That's right. That's right.

TOOMER: ... because of football and other sports, as well. So that's another thing that football brings to our community.

CAIN: That's right.

ROMANS: What about pursuing your kids. You want your kids to pursue their dreams, but you also want to be pretty realistic about what it's going to get you, too. You don't want to give kids false hope.

And you also don't want to be that parent on the sidelines who has got your kid in seventh grade lifting weights, telling them if they don't win, it's all about winning, winning, winning. And there's some pretty fine lines here.

CAIN: To take this segment full circle, you don't want to be that parent, but if I find out some kid is getting paid extra money to hurt my kid on the field, I'm going to have a hard time staying on the sidelines.

ROMANS: Oh, yes, I know, I know. So have you decided that you would not put your kids in football? You will.

CAIN: Well, if I move back to Texas, I'm sure they will be. New York City, it's a little harder to find it out.

TOOMER: You can find anywhere.


TOOMER: Go out to the Outer Boroughs.


CAIN: I think I am open to it, I am wide open to it.

ROMANS: You're going to have to move to Jersey.

(LAUGHTER) ROMANS: We'll find you a place where your kids can play football. Amani Toomer, really nice to meet you.

TOOMER: Thank you.

ROMANS: Will Cain, always nice to see you.

One of my next guests says she's more concerned about raising basement kids -- basement boys than kids getting hit hard on the football field. We'll talk about that and our parent panelist next on YOUR BOTTOM LINE.


ROMANS: It's the most popular sport in America. More high school kids play football than anything else. One in four boys plays high school football. Soccer, gaining in popularity, but in many parts of the country, you know what, football is the undisputed king.

High school football players, they're rewarded for sacks and tackles. They get stickers sometimes on their helmets, accolades, awards, not the same, of course, as a cash bounty. But the NFL bounty scandal has plenty of parents this week saying, hey, is this another reason why football is just too rough for growing kids?

Joining us from Wisconsin, conservative blogger Rachel Campos-Duffy. She's the wife of Congressman Sean Duffy. And she blogs for In Atlanta, Goldie Taylor, she's an independent political analyst and social critic. Nice to see you. And here on set with me, Pete Dominick, he's the host of SiriusXM's "StandUP."

The four of us combined, by the way, have enough children to form a football team.

Pete, forget the violence, the injuries, all that for a second, football is an expensive sport. It requires the most equipment. It largely excludes girls. I think there is only 1,300 girls playing this sport in high school in America.

In an era of severe education budget cuts, maybe that's the reason to be talking about cutting it from public schools. Some are.

PETE DOMINICK, HOST, SIRIUSXM'S "STANDUP": Yes. I mean, that's a fair point. If we're talking about budget cuts, I think that we might want to cut expensive sports that require the reason it's so expensive, so much equipment, hockey, lacrosse, football are much more expensive because of the equipment.

I would cut football before I would cut music and art and foreign languages if that's the question, but the idea -- if you take budget cuts out of it, the idea of getting rid of football because it's violent -- at a very youth level, I don't think we should extrapolate what happens in the NFL all the way down to Pee Wee, that's for sure.

ROMANS: Yes. You know, I asked our viewers to weigh in on this topic. And here's some of what you had to say. One person wrote: "Football too rough? It's for the guys that can't play hockey. Football guys have all their teeth. Not in hockey."

Another one says: "The kids these days are just too weak." He then followed up with: "But then hardship might be why the generation before us was great and why our youth today is doomed."

Goldie, some harsh stuff for people to say. We certainly don't want our kids to be coddled too much, but football, especially high school football, especially what we're seeing in the NFL bounty scandal, it requires grownups, right? Referees, parents, coaches, to make sure that aggression is channeled into competition and leadership.

GOLDIE TAYLOR, INDEPENDENT POLITICAL ANALYST & SOCIAL CRITIC: It does. It requires all of us to get involved. I mean, I have five children. I didn't coddle not one of them. Some of them played lacrosse, some of them played soccer. One played football for a year or two, others ran track.

It was an opportunity for them. My high school football team was 36-0 when I was in school. And so -- and we didn't have the best equipment, but we had involved parents, involved coaches who saw to it that they were doing the right thing on the field.

Football and other sports are an important part of growing children. And my fear is, is that, you know, despite what some of the reports are coming out about injuries, and I think that's an unfortunate thing that we have got to pay attention to, I think my fear is, is that we are pulling -- you know, going to coddle our kids too much.

And it's a very cruel world out there. They have got to be prepared for everything.

ROMANS: Yes. You know, Rachel, you make a really good point about being less worried about football injuries than about raising a generation of basement boys. What do you mean by that?

RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY, CATHOLICVOTE.ORG: I am. I am. Because, you know, so many kids are in their basements and playing video games. I think who is going to fight our wars, who is going to save us from burning buildings? I think we're raising boys to be men.

I have a 5-year-old son who is a Green Bay packer fan. Today I watched him throw his teddy bear, it's a huge teddy bear up into the air and dive after it because he's playing football with a teddy bear. And boys will be boys.

I think eliminating Pee Wee sports for kids or even in high school, boys are going to do what they're going to do and perhaps they're safer with the equipment.

ROMANS: Well, let me ask you this because I'm curious if you agree with Pete that you would rather -- if you had to make a choice in an era of budget cuts, that football, something that really only boys can do and something that is one of the most expensive things that you can run for a school, you know, football goes before music?

CAMPOS-DUFFY: Well, who wants to make that choice? I have a son who is a football player and I have another one who is into football. I mean, I think that's a really unfair choice to make.

ROMANS: I'll take it back, then. You don't have to make that choice. But it does show you some of the things that people are talking about out there and thinking about out there.

But this week in particular, and, Goldie, I want to go back to you quickly. Mothers, I hear a lot of mothers rolling their eyes at this NFL bounty story and saying, OK, you now, just another story about football knocking heads together, you know, come on, what are we doing here?

TAYLOR: You know what, kids are going to play. You can take football out of high school, out of Pee Wee and anywhere else, and they'll be like us when we were kids and we'll get out a stick and a ball and make up a baseball game.

We will do what we want to do in the streets. I think it's just important to keep the structure in the schools and I think that's just important. I think that at the end of the day, I think that she's right. Kids are going to be kids. We have to prepare them for competition.

When my kids were small, they won a game, make a big play, we went to the ice cream parlor. OK, so NFL players are getting paid for it. I think it goes over the line when you pay them to knock somebody out of the game.

DOMINICK: Yes, if we're giving our kids -- awarding our kids with a root beer float after they had a hard hit, that, to me, we shouldn't extrapolate pro sports where people are being paid, in this case, to injury each other, down to high school.

ROMANS: Right. I think it's an overused phrase, but teachable moment. I hope every coach, every principal, every parent, every quarterback, every receiver in America is talking about how, well, that went too far.

DOMINICK: But not kickers.

ROMANS: Right. No, but not kickers.

Another subject I want to talk about, a topic that caught my eye this week, the treatment of women in politics. I mean, a lot has been written about this. But from Sarah Palin to Sandra Fluke, women facing a different kind of rhetoric that many say is definitely more demeaning than men.

Goldie, you say you're not surprised by this.

TAYLOR: I have been called things I cannot repeat on this television set, on blogs, and everywhere else. I think that the language has devolved into something that I think is just really untenable. And I think that both sides are responsible.

Sarah Palin was hit with this. Now we're seeing Sandra Fluke being hit with this. Michele Bachmann was hit with it. I think it's just very, very tough for women in politics, but we're here, we're here to stay, and if our numbers grow, I think unfortunately the language is going to grow, you know, as they attempt to marginalize and malign women who seek positions of power.

ROMANS: Do you think it has been kind of a crescendo? I mean, and I feel like in modern history, it sorted of started with Sarah Palin where people were criticizing her for how much money was spent on her clothes. And a lot of women kept saying, well, no one is counting how many Armani suits are in president's...


TAYLOR: That's exactly right.

ROMANS: I mean, so what's this -- I mean, Pete, you have two daughters. How do you feel about the treatment of women in politics?

DOMINICK: It's terrible. It's absolutely terrifying. Let's not equate everything. Let's not necessarily equate Sandra Fluke to Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin. But the bottom line is, we should never be calling these women names, names like this because of what it does.

It discourages women from wanting those leadership roles, from wanting to speak their minds on issues, whether it's Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, or Sandra Fluke, we don't want to do that.

And, you know, Goldie talks about, I've been called every name, I've been called lots of names too, but none of them have ever been based on my gender. I've been called every a stupid every which way you can, but nobody...

ROMANS: I'm really sorry about that, Pete.

DOMINICK: ... ever says something about me...

ROMANS: I didn't mean it as an...


ROMANS: It was you tweeting, and you've done it many different times, Christine.


DOMINICK: But it never really hurts. It's not about my gender, it's not about my race. You can make fun of my baldness which I can't control. But those things don't hurt. It's different for gender- based insults, race-based insults, and sexual orientation-based insults, which there is no place for.

ROMANS: Rachel, last word here on this.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: I think what demeans this argument, because I think it's a legitimate argument, is when people like Axelrod are hypocritical about it. If you're going to come out and criticize Limbaugh or even Mitt Romney for not coming out against Limbaugh, then you can't go on Bill Maher's show just because he gave your campaign $1 million, and go on the same week that you're making that complaint to a man who is, quite frankly, a misogynist, and it goes across the board.

But it's especially towards conservative women, and the things he has said to Sarah Palin and other conservative women, I can't even say right now on the air.

ROMANS: Well, a lot of things have been said to a lot of people that no one can say on the air right now, and that is just in itself, in a nutshell, exactly what we're talking about, raising the standard for everyone.

Everyone, thank you so much, Pete Dominick, Goldie Taylor, also Rachel Campos-Duffy, nice to see all of you.

All right. Four things you can do right now. Four things you can do to save several hundred dollars each month. You can't afford to turn off the TV right now. That's next. YOUR BOTTOM LINE.


ROMANS: Now if we could just figure out how to get more Americans the low rates on their mortgages, it would be an automatic economic stimulus. Consider this, Credit Sesame found homeowners overpay an average of $471 a month for their mortgage. That's more than $56,000 over 10 years. Refinancing at lower interest rates would unlock that savings.

Adrian Nazari is a founder of Credit Sesame, it's a free consumer online tool. Nice to see you this morning. I want to ask you, you're findings say that really only 30 percent of qualified homeowners will pursue a refinance. Qualified, not everyone is qualified. What's holding people back?

ADRIAN NAZARI, CEO, CREDIT SESAME: Well, we think there are three reasons why people shy away from the potential savings. They're pessimistic about the market. They're pessimistic about the process of obtaining a new mortgage. And they think comparing mortgage loans are too difficult.

ROMANS: Well, it's a daunting process basically, so that's keeping people. Also I think that some people don't have an awareness of how low mortgage rates really are right now. I mean, if you're a couple of points, right? I mean, there are a lot of people I know who say, oh, I have a 6 percent loan or 5.5 percent loan. They should be refinancing.

NAZARI: That is correct. As you said, our recent survey indicated that when we looked at American homeowners, based on their credit, income, and home equity, an average homeowner could save about $471 per month, but they're not doing it.

And what's more important is that it's expected that about 6 million Americans refinanced this year. Our data reveals that twice as many more people can potentially qualify for refinancing and saving, and they may be living paycheck to paycheck where they may not have to.

ROMANS: Well, I want to ask you though about something the president announced this week, some more tools, another tool to help homeowners lowering the finance costs for FHA-insured home loans so that people with FHA loans can refinance. The White House says 2 million to 3 million will qualify. Do you think it's going help?

NAZARI: Well, we like the Obama plan. We think it is definitely going to help a number of people, a lot of people that have FHA mortgages. But most consumers don't have FHA mortgages.

People who have it, they may have already refinanced. So it's definitely going to help a lot of FHA mortgage holders. It's not going to help all the 2 million to 3 million, as it is expected. But it's overall when you consider other plans, I think it's a step in the right direction.

ROMANS: All right. Adrian Nazari, from Credit Sesame, very nice to meet you. Thanks for coming by this morning.

Here are four ways for homeowners to unlock the money in their house. If mortgage rates are at least 2 percentage points less than the rate you're paying, you need to refinance, even if you've done it recently. The 15 years, a popular refinancing tool, those rates, 3.36 percent.

Next, appeal your property taxes. Most people who do get money back on average around $1,300 a year, that's according to But do your homework. Call the assessor's office first to understand the formula for determining your home's value. The assessment listed on tax bills is often only a fraction of the real value that determines your tax.

And do sweat the small stuff. They add up. Using a programmable thermostat will save you $180 a year, this is according to Energy Star. And don't overpay for your technology. Bundle your Internet, your phone, your cable. Shop around. You can save up to $60 a month if you switch to a bundle plan.

You've got to make sure you assess your needs and you don't pay for too much. Are you paying for multiple boxes? Have you considered Internet phone service? An hour of comparison shopping and several more hours of waiting for the proverbial cable guy, could save you bundle.

What do you think about making teacher evaluations public? We've got your thoughts next.


ROMANS: As you know, each week we ask you to share your thoughts on the stories you've heard on this show. Boy, were you fired up after last week. Here's what you had to say about making teacher evaluations public.

Linda McPherson (ph) writes: "Perhaps schools should be empowered to evaluate parents and post those ratings too." Rosie (ph) says: "Teachers have 40 children in class, can't be everything to every student. Figure out needs of one student times 40, impossible."

Perpetual New Yorker tweets: "As a teacher, I hate the new pay for performance idea. Any other job have 130 to 150 variables? Nope. I don't think so." There you go.

That's going to wrap things up for us this morning. But we want to keep talking about all of this online. Share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter. Our handle is @CNNBottomLine. My handle @ChristineRomans.

Back now to CNN SATURDAY for the latest headlines. Have a great weekend, everyone.