This is the first post of several on youth and H.S. football, and head traumas. There are 3.5 million tackle football players age 5 to 14, and 1 million more H.S. players. I just wrote an OPED on this subject(has not been accepted yet), basically stating my position that we should stop tackle football before age 18(after age 18, and the NFL, is another ??). I am not a “football scold”; my heroes were Butkus and Sayers, I played QB, and watch(way too much) football. However, I have:1.reviewed the studies(many now), 2.spoken with football coaches, and 3. interviewed state sports officials. I was originally trying to help design some guidelines to make youth football safer; there are a # of things that we could do. These include: eliminate hitting in practice(80 to 90% of head traumas are in practice), 2.Concussion rules, where the kid has to sit a certain amount of time, and have a doctors note to return, 3. Buddy system, where players are responsible for reporting their linemates concussion symptoms(concussions are notoriously underreported by players, so they don’t have to sit out; in high schhol football, about 65,000 concussions are reported each year, at least that many are not reported), 4. ..and there are other things coaches and players can do to make it safer(helmets by the way are very good for preventing skull fractures, but not very good for preventing concussions). However, I am very skeptical that guidelines will be put in place and enforced. Even if some of them were, head blows are always going to be part of the game of tackle football, you cannot legislate around that.
So, after much study I have come to the sad conclusion that we really should play just touch or flag football; football is such a beloved part of our culture, and their are many benefits from it. In future blogs I will outline my reasons, and go into what happens in the head in a concussion, discuss post-concussion headaches, etc. etc…..

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