Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

For minimum age of twelve. The numbers

For the last 30 years, Football has been voted America’s
favorite sport. (Rovell, 2014)

We enjoy nothing more than going to Friday night football
games under the lights or watching our favorite NFL team every Sunday. But is
the game we all know and love going downhill? The truth is, in recent years, the
number of neurological problems that former players have had is leading parents
to be concerned about the safety of their own children. For this reason, tackle
football should begin at a minimum age of twelve.  

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The numbers are very alarming, as mentioned in the article, 177
of 202 post-mortem football players, from high school to professional years, had
signs of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) in their brains. CTE is a
degenerative brain disease causes by multiple traumas to the head. The traumas
causes proteins to be deposited which block nerve cells in the brain and
eventually terminate them entirely. (PBS, 2013). The side effects include
behavior and cognitive problems such as loss of memory, aggression, depression,
dementia, etc.


The NFL finally recognized the problem in 2016 and is
willing to assist affected players with a one-billion-dollar settlement, as
well as increasing concussion protocol, reducing head to head contact and
getting better protective equipment. However, is this enough? Without reducing
the number of head to head trauma the money will not even make a dent. It is
important to improve the equipment, but a lot of children starting out cannot
afford to purchase the newest and most expensive protection. What the NFL must
do is encourage future football players to not begin playing until they are developed
enough to have the skills needed to protect themselves from serious injury.


As for current players, some have decided that the game is
not worth the risk of living a shorter life and have decided to give it up. In
fact, a lot of current and former players have said that they would not urge
their children to participate in the game because of all the serious risk
associated with it. Commenting on the age in which to let his boys play
football, Ravens’ tight end, Ben Watson, said “…I think we’ll wait until at
least middle school and maybe even high school.” (Trotter, 2016). A lot of
families must agree with his statement as the number of youth football players
has dropped by approximately twenty percent since 2009. Multiple studies have
been done about the risk of entering into the game at an early age. Wake Forest
School of Medicine performed a study on boys from eight to thirteen years old.
These players participated in tackle football for just one season and already
showed signs of diminished brain functions. (Belson, 2017).


As former NFL player for the Jets, Jim Hudson’s’ wife said,
“I hope it doesn’t kill the game, but that it stops killing the players…we’d
better get on it and figure it out.” (USA Today, 2017) She is exactly right and
the way to do this is to change the age in which our kids can begin playing
tackle football. Studies have concluded that there is a strong relationship
between the number of years playing and the symptoms that come along with CTE,
like dementia. In addition, players who begin playing before the age of 12 have
more head related problems then children who chose to wait. (Belson, 2017). Before
the age of 12 our brains are in a “growth spurt”, meaning that they are still
developing. If the youth of the game plays flag football and does not
participate in tackling until a later age, we can preserve the safety and
longevity of future players.


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