DANGERS OF CONCUSSIONS: New Numbers Suggest Fewer Kids Playing Tackle Football
The question still remains for so many sports parents – what do you do if your child tells you that they want to play tackle football?
In light of the onslaught of research that clearly links repeated concussions from playing football to long-term mental health concerns, it’s just harder for parents to let their boys go out, strap on a helmet, and start tackling other players.
To that end, I was wondering when we would start to see a decline in the numbers of kids playing football. Sure enough, the state of Minnesota is reporting a substantial decline in kids playing youth football; in some parts of that state, it’s down by as much as 20%. That’s a substantial decline.
And a major sporting goods association says that in 2006, there more than 10 million in the USA playing tackle football. But in 2011, that number dropped to 9 million. I’m sure there are other factors at work here, but I would assume that one of the major factors are parental worries about concussions.
Problem is, despite the best attempts from helmet manufacturers, no one has really developed the technology yet to substantially minimize the risk of kids suffering concussions. Yes, there have been improvements, and yes, coaches are stepping up their instructions to kids on how to tackle properly, using one’s shoulders instead of one’s head. But football being football, there are always going to be accidental head-to-head hits – and that’s the issue.
So, for now, there seems to be no clear answer as to whether you allow your 6 or 7 year old to play football. Perhaps one suggestion is to not let them play tackle until they’re at least in middle school or HS. Perhaps they will have learned the best way to tackle an opponent without jeoparding a hit to the head. But again, there’s no guarantee in this.
As one caller confessed this AM, he played football right through HS and in college, and now, at age 24, he’s being told by his neurologist that there’s no cure for his occasional memory lapses. Even worse, he was told that these are definitely caused by multiple concussions he suffered during his playing days. As that caller said, “There’s no way I would ever let my own son play football. It’s just not worth it.”
Pretty sobering stuff.