Tackle Football is hazardous to the brain.
Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre has joined health care advocates in urging parents not to let children under the age of 14 play tackle football saying it would dramatically reduce the risk of being diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
CTE is a degenerative brain disease found in athletes, military veterans, and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma.
The number of youth sport participants who experience concussions during sports participation has reached epidemic proportions. The number of reported youth concussions ranges between 1.7 and 3 million annually. Additionally, it is estimated that half of concussions are unreported or undetected. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) now recognizes Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) and concussions as a national public health issue.
Favre is appearing in a public service announcement sponsored by the Concussion Legacy Foundation, the not for profit association leading efforts to protect the brains of athletes in all levels of competition including youth sports.
"Having kids play before high school is just not worth the risk,"
Favre said in a statement. "CTE is a terrible disease, and we need to do everything we can to prevent it for the next generation of football players."
Is there a safer way to play football? Repeated studies have shown that flag football is safer. Comparing tackle football to flag football, a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said those who participate in tackle football are 15 times more likely to suffer a head injury in a game or practice.
As much as I appreciate the efforts of Brett Favre and the Concussion Legacy Foundation in promoting safe sports and brain health, I must respectfully disagree with their decision to limit tackle football to those over 14 years.
14 is an arbitrary age cut off
The fact is playing tackle football is dangerous to all.
Football is a concussion delivery system and a concussion is a brain injury. It is well known that even one concussion can cause long lasting and even permanent brain damage. Repetitive head trauma known as sub-concussive brain impacts can also lead to permanent brain damage. So why are we pretending that at age 14 this all magically becomes safe?
And what about the dangers of returning to play prematurely and the enhanced risks associated with multiple concussions?
As a society, we need to seriously confront these issues and ban youth tackle football at all ages.
My law firm has created a youth tackle football information page to track developments in the banning of youth tackle football and the promotion of flag football. You can view the page at: https://brainlaw.com/youth-tackle-football/
The full video from the Concussion Legacy Foundation is included below with more information available here.