Photo from williamhill.ys2016.com
By Nick Kalantzopoulos
We are in the swing of football season, heading into Week 7 of the sport that is running away with the title of America’s favorite.
Ratings continue to skyrocket, involvement in fantasy football continues to soar and the Super Bowl has gone from a football game to a social event.
But with the topic of concussions continuing to be at the forefront of conversation, should kids even be signing up to play?
Many people have given their opinion on whether or not they would let their children play. Even President Obama told The New Yorker that if he had a son, he would not let him play football. People continue to follow in the President’s footsteps with good reason.
Cam’ron Matthews, a junior from Alto High School in Texas, recently became the sixth U.S. high school student to die from a football-related injury this year.
Local media reports were unclear on what exactly happened, but an affiliate of CNN reported that Matthews told his teammates during a huddle shortly before halftime that he felt dizzy. He reportedly suffered a seizure during the game and died the following Saturday.
The topic of concussions in football is a crucial one, and its importance is proven by the media involvement as well as the strong public response.
Different football leagues, from the National Football League (NFL) to local high school and youth football leagues have quickly instituted new safety rules, making it safer than ever to play football.
This reason, among others, is why I would still allow any child of mine to play football. Admittedly, it would be with a caveat.
Many people believe that you should either allow your children to play football as soon as they want to or never even let them put on pads. Like any other topic, there are more than two sides and more than two solutions.
If I were a parent of a child who wanted to play tackle football, I would allow it, but only when they reach high school. Before then, I would only allow them to play in organized non-tackle football leagues, such as flag football.
The reason for this stance is mostly due to the development of the human body and brain. According to a New York Times article from January, a study of NFL retirees found that those who began playing tackle football when they were younger than 12 years old had a higher risk of developing memory and thinking problems later in life. Unlike injuries to ligaments and bones, concussions are more harmful the second time, and only get worse from there.
The reason that 12 years old was the chosen age in this study was because it is roughly the point by which brains in young boys are thought to have already undergone key periods of development.
Research has shown that boys younger than 12 who injure their brains can take longer to recover and have poor cognition in childhood. Younger children have also not yet built up the strength in their bodies to withstand the punishment of tackle football.
Another interesting statistic is that, according to a study in JAMA Pediatrics, 58 percent of football-related concussions that occur at the high school and college level happen during practice. This statistic shows that more than half of concussions at these levels are attributed to the rigors that some coaches put their players through, rather than the live game action.
Naturally, the response would be “Why let your children play at all?” Well, with programs such as Heads Up Football, which focuses on getting coaches certified to teach players the correct way to tackle, playing football is safer than ever. More coaches are becoming CPR certified, and in a greater number of high school leagues, it is becoming a requirement both for football coaches as well as coaches of other sports.
Personally, I played organized baseball and basketball from the age of 7 to the end of high school, choosing not to play football merely because I was not interested.
Playing these team sports throughout the school year teaches important, sometimes invaluable, character traits. Sports teach children how to win and lose, and how to succeed and fail. They give youths friends for the rest of their lives, and paths to career opportunities they never thought that they would pursue.
Growing up playing sports, I know how crucial they can be in one’s upbringing. That is why I would let my children play high-school tackle football. For the reasons listed above, I would only allow non-contact football leagues such as flag football before then. I would also ensure that my children are playing for a coach that stresses proper mechanics, and for a league that has the necessary technology to prevent injuries.
Disclaimer: This is a blog post in which an opinion is established. We encourage our readers to reach their own conclusions based on reading several articles that support and refute an opinion. The opinions established in this article do not represent the beliefs or ideals held by the Stony Brook Independent.