Should we allow kids to play football?

Ryland Staples | Staff Writer

Growing up, I always felt I had to be interested in football.

I personally never took any interest in it, and I was always more of a basketball person.

Even as a child, football just looked too rough to me. The whole idea of “tackling” someone was just excessive. When I went to high school, football was thrown at me from every direction. Not only through my going to football games, but coaches would walk up to me and ask if I “ever thought about tossin’ the pigskin.”

My older brother played football while he was in high school, and I recently talked to him about his experience with it. He said that if he could go back, he wouldn’t have played, explaining that it was too rough for him.

Various studies show that kids starting football at an early age are more susceptible to head injuries. According to Dr. Robert Stern at Boston University, children who play tackle football before the age of 12 face a high risk of behavioral and emotional difficulties as adults. The effects are present, whether or not the child suffers a concussion while playing the sport.

In his study, Stern found that “between the ages of 10 and 12, there is this period of incredible development of the brain.” This period is what he calls “a window of vulnerability.”

“It makes sense that children whose brains are rapidly developing should not be hitting their heads over and over again,” Stern said.

Hampton University sophomore Dylan Bruton is quite wary about this information but still wants his future children to be involved in the sport.

“I would allow them to play tackle football around fifth or sixth grade,” said Bruton, a journalism major. “But only let them play flag when they are younger.”

Even still, there are also many cases of college and professional players having issues with concussions affecting their mood and mental state.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the story of Ohio State football player Kosta Karageorge, who went missing in 2014. He left his mother a note saying that his head was “all messed up.”

About a week after he went missing, his body was found in a dumpster about a block from his house. Reports showed that he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Football has been a huge part of American culture for decades now, but we have to face the fact that it is not as safe as people think.

Now am I saying that we should ban football? No, not at all. It seems like with the advancement of sports science and medicine, we are better able to see the short- and long-term effects of a lifetime of playing football.

If parents of children interested in playing football look at all of the data that is associated with the effects of football and feel that football is the right sport for them, then by all means, they should have that right to participate. I just want to have an open dialogue about the caution that should be taken when playing the sport.

It is a fun sport, but it is not worth dying over.

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