I have been following proposals to ban youth tackle football for some time. My position remains clear, Football is a Concussion Delivery System and despite all the hype by the NFL and youth sports organizations, there is no such thing as safe tackle.
Tag football seems to be a reasonable alternative to the dangers of tackle football for children. Over the past several years, there have been several legislative proposals to ban youth tackle football which unfortunately have failed to gain wide-spread support.
A new study reveals that although football in the United States is revered by many, now half of those survey believe that tackle football is an inappropriate activity for children.
4,000 adults were asked to agree or disagree with the statement, “Tackle football is an appropriate sport for kids to play”, 45% of respondents agreed that it was appropriate and 45% disagreed. The remaining group were unsure. The most support for youth tackle football was from males who played football in their youth. The findings were published online March 26th in the Journal Social Currents.
We have a page on our web site, tracking the progress of these legislative efforts and newsworthy information on youth tackle football. The page can be viewed at:
Why am I adamant in my belief that tackle football should be banned for children?
Because if you shake it, you break it.
Children’s brains are still developing and the rapid movement of the brain within the skull can cause damage to delicate nerve cells which can be stretched, frayed, torn, or broken.
The skull does not provide protection from the rapid acceleration and deceleration forces involved in a collision or when the player’s head hits the ground, or when the head and neck are violently thrust in many directions. When this occurs, the delicate brain brushes up against the rough interior of ridges of the skull causing brain damage.
Despite what marketing people call advances in football helmets, no helmet can protect the brain from these rapid movements within the skull.
So, there is no way to make this game safe for anyone’s brains, especially children.
We have learned over the years, that besides a concussion which can result from this rapid movement of the brain within the skull, multiple sub-concussive blows can also lead to long term brain damage.
And let’s not leave out a condition known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy—“CTE” which is caused my head trauma and can lead to progressive mental decline, dementia, inappropriate behavior, and even suicide.
If we will not ban youth tackle football, then at least let’s provide other forms of protection to our nation’s youth. Every state has a youth sports concussion management law which requires some form of concussion education, keeping player’s out of play for various periods of time until cleared to return to play if a concussion is suspected, and training.
But, these laws do not go far enough. In most states, they only apply to school-based programs, leaving the majority of children who engage in competitive sports out of necessary protection.
These laws should apply to all organized youth sports programs to protect the maximum number of children.
These laws should set vigorous standards for return to play and require all coaches and trainers to take mandatory courses to identify concussion risks and concussion symptoms.
Schools need to be included in these laws to provide for monitoring and assistance to students when they return to the classroom.
Records should have to be kept for each youth athlete on their concussion history;
Baseline testing needs to be mandated for a better determination of when it is safe to allow a child to return to play. This baseline testing must be deemed essential preventive medical care compelling medical insurance companies to pay for the cost of this testing;
And finally, strict penalties including the right to bring a civil lawsuit for injuries must be included in all legislation to provide teeth and an incentive for everyone to follow these laws.
You can view my testimony on these issues before the New York State legislature by going to our web site, www.brainlaw.com, going to our presentation section and clicking Youth Tackle Football Hearing. The full link is provided in the text to this Insider Edition: https://brainlaw.com/brain-injuries/assembly-bill-a02692/
The best cure for a brain injury is prevention.