DANGERS OF CONCUSSIONS: Why Not Ban Tackle Football Until Kids are 14?
So here is today’s suggestion….why not pass a rule that kids can’t play tackle football until they’re 14?
It’s a pretty simple rule, but it could be very powerful in terms of cutting down on the number of concussions with kids. Example: in a recent Pop Warner game in Massachusetts, at least five kids under the age of 12 were diagnosed with concussions sufferered in that one game.
It was a game, by the way, that ended with the lopsided score of 52-0, and even though the three refs and coaches from both teams knew that, under Pop Warner rules, once a team is up by 28 points, mercy rules have to be implemented, none of these supposed grown-ups did anything. As a result, all the refs have now been banned from working any more more games, and the coaches have been banned as well.
The attitude of the winning coach? “This is a football game, not a Hallmark moment.”
True. Except that you’re coaching little kids, not the Green Bay Packers. In fact, the Packers probably have more protection from concussions than these kids do.
A number of callers this AM – many of them Pop Warner coaches or Dads with kids who play Pop Warner – embraced the idea of banning tackle football until 14. I made the same suggestion regarding banning heading soccer balls until14, and body checking in ice hockey until 14 as well, but the callers all focused on football. And as noted, they liked this idea.
Why 14? Because this suggestion comes directly from Dr. Robert Cantu, the noted neurosurgon, who strongly advocates that age. Until then, says Cantu, kids’ heads are not well supported by their neck muscles, and besides, their brain connections are still developing.
I also want to point out that Pop Warner, under Jon Butler’s direction, has tried very hard to get out in front of the concussion concerns, and that they have been proactive to educate their coaches and leagues. Problem is, they can’t be there to watch every single Pop Warner game, and in truth, there are lots of youth coaches who just don’t get the concerns about concussions.
Bottom line? Like All-Star QB Tom Brady’s Dad, who kept his kid from playing tackle football until he was 14, I think the time has come to seriously consider letting kids play organized FLAG football instead of tackle football until they’re in 9th grade. The kids can still learn the basics of blocking and tackling along the way, but in the meantime, the number of concussions will be — hopefully -drastically reduced.