By Matthew Tobin

Football is a rough sport, with approximately 123,000 concussions being sustained every year in high school football alone. This is especially dangerous though, because as noted by David Riley from the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, a condition caused by numerous blows to the head, “recent literature has noted that brain injuries lead to more persistent deficits in youth indicating that a younger brain may be more susceptible to injury.” With the greater risk to players, laws and regulations should be enacted to make high school football safer so that the goals and lessons taught in football of dedication to a goal, teamwork, sacrifice, and companionship might still be instilled in youth without damaging their bodies permanently.

Should Football be banned?

A concussion, as defined by the Mayo clinic, is “a traumatic brain injury that alters the way your brain functions.” They usually result from blows to the head but also can occur “when the upper body or head is violently shaken,” both of which occur in football. The need for the protection of these players is apparent, but some would say that the risk of damage to student athletes is too great and that football must be banned permanently, as advocated by Paul Butler. A retired surgeon from Dover, New Hampshire, Butler feels that the risk of being sued by a parent of an injured player is too great for the school board, especially one that is already suffering budget cuts.

What has to be done to be done to make football safe?

Life cannot be lived in a constant state of fear of being sued. In her article High School Athletes and Concussions, Lesley Lueke acknowledges the inherent risk of concussions, but also proposes comprehensive and far reaching statutes that would limit the damage of concussions while also raising awareness so students, parents and athletes know what to look for if they suspect that they have sustained a concussion. Her article also drives home the issue of baseline testing for athletes before the season even begins to allow for trainers and doctors to have something to compare the state of the brain to after receiving a blow that might have caused a concussion, which is vital in the ability to first identify it to prevent young players from reinjuring their brain, leading to life threatening conditions.

The Bottom Line

By saying that football is just a violent sport with its only purpose being to damage others would greatly reduce it. As pointed out by an article about Dr. Butler, it fosters hope in small communities across the nation. When some people make high school football their life it is a serious problem, but the sport allows young people the ability to grow and learn what it means to be true to a group, to be dedicated to an ideal higher than themselves, and to sacrifice for the greater good. While it is wrong to say that one’s life has no greater purpose than to play football, there needs to be an adjustment in the sports culture that takes seriously the dangerous risk of concussions on the brains of adolescents, because in no way is a game worth more than your mental health.

Recommended Reading:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01947648.2011.632710?scroll=top&needAccess=true

https://mjlr.org/2014/10/27/for-the-love-of-the-game-the-case-for-state-bans-on-youth-tackle-football/

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/136/5/e1419