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Would You Let Your Kids Play Football?

With Hall of Fame football player Junior Seau being the most recent former football player diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease connected to football, are you less likely to let you kid play football?

It's always been known that football, like any contact sport, has certain physical risks.

But more evidence is pointing to the risks going beyond broken bones and torn ligaments.

It was reported this week that Junior Seau, the Hall Fame linebacker, who committed suicide last summer suffered from degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Seau shot himself in the chest, as did former football player Dave Duerson in 2011. Duerson shot himself in the chest because he wanted his brain examined. It was later determined he suffered from CTE.

Earlier this week, the National Institute of Health launched a study of sports-related concussions among youth, amid concerns that the injuries may have contributed to the suicides of professional football players.

With the recent uptick it what appears to be football-related deaths, are you more hesitant to allow your kids to play football? Are the risks outweighed by the possible life lessons some can learn from playing the sport? Tell us in the comments section.

AHS'95 January 12, 2013 at 07:56 AM
I wouldn't let my kids play football. It does have some very positive things such as teamwork, conditioning and discipline however you can learn those skills in less dangerous ways. While playing football for Albany High I saw a teammate suffer a brain aneurysm after a hit. He was resuscitated on the field and transported to the hospital for emergency brain surgery. He survived but with considerable brain damage. The next teammate broke several ribs after he landed on the ball. One rib punctured a lung, another ruptured his spleen. During halftime when complaining about the pain the coach told him to "suck it up". At the beginning of the second half he collapsed on the field and was taken to the hospital where he was minutes from dying due to internal bleeding. His spleen was removed and spent a month in the hospital (think of the bills). Besides all the standard muscle and ligament injuries I also saw a teammate get his arm caught between two defenders running in opposite directions. It was snapped clean off. Only his skin kept his arm attached to his body. It was very grotesque to witness. Repetitive hits must have effects on one's brain tissues. There were many times on kickoff returns or during open field blocking and tackling that I would collide with an opponent so hard that I would blackout momentarily only for my vision to return to everything in black and white, then red, then orange, yellow, green, purple, polka dots and final stripes (much like in the cartoons).
Rhea Liddy January 12, 2013 at 02:31 PM
I'd be interested to know how much money a given high school spends on insurance to cover accidents on the football field. I bet the number isn't known, but I also bet a school's insurance bill would be significantly lower if it didn't have a football program.
David Cohen January 12, 2013 at 06:30 PM
Football really should be banned as a matter of public health policy. There is no other sport (except boxing) that features deliberate brutal assault as an integral part of the game. All the justifications for it (tradition, lessons in life, teamwork, etc) pale in significance compared to the liabilities of football, particularly in view of the fact that football play begins with youth, and can continue for many years. The football paradigm can go extinct, and when it does, people will look back in astonishment that it ever existed .... just as we now think about brutal institutions such as gladiatorial contests or slavery.
Mary January 12, 2013 at 08:34 PM
I would strongly discourage it. It teaches extreme aggressiveness and causes too many injuries. There are plenty of other sports and activities for kids to participate in.
R January 12, 2013 at 09:33 PM
Absolutely I would. I grew up in Alameda, I played soccer my whole life with ASC then on to Bay Oaks and AHS soccer. I also played Football for six years (four at AHS) I saw way more injuries (broken legs, broken teeth, torn ligaments) playing soccer than football. The key is to practice and teach safe tackling. It never taught me "extreme aggressiveness", Im sure that condition is caused by other environmental conditions earlier in life, not a side effect of a game. Football was one of the most rewarding things that I have ever done in my life, it truly kept me in school and out of trouble when I was in HS. No other sport that I played kept me motivated like football. I had so many friends who either dropped out or ended up at Island HS because they had no motivation to do good in school. This may not be the case for everyone who plays, but it was for me. Remember, the most dangerous thing that your child will do today is be in a vehicle.
R January 12, 2013 at 11:11 PM
http://unofficialnetworks.com/2011/05/26/dangerous-sports-world/graph/ Yeah, skiing should be banned too, and compared to slavery (because people are forced to ski and play football). Also, you forgot Rugby, UFC, Wrestling(not WWE) as barbaric sports that should be banned.
Rhea Liddy January 13, 2013 at 02:01 AM
I don't know 'R,'. You sure were aggressive in the way you answered Dave.
David Cohen January 13, 2013 at 06:02 AM
Thank you for your resume. I've changed my mind now; you've convinced me that football is safe and healthy.
Stephanie Travis January 13, 2013 at 07:41 AM
If football is so necessary to build successful kids with strong characters, why do girls graduate from high school and college in greater numbers than boys, and have a much lower level of involvement in all crimes, particularly crimes of violence? My only regret in growing up when I did is that Title Nine was passed after I graduated from college and I therefore did not have the access to sports that female students have today. I believe that if they are interested kids should be strongly encouraged to participate in sports, however, not a sport that values violence the way football does at all levels of play.
Stephanie Travis January 13, 2013 at 07:44 AM
Excellence in skiing does not require that you plow into trees, good drivers do not consciously try and “take out” other drivers, tennis players are not expected to beat their opponents by knocking them unconscious with a ball to the head. Football showed what it values in players when Michael Vick was rehired for millions. The sport encourages young boys to cheer to victory a man who hung dogs when he couldn’t turn them into vicious fighters and then beat them to death with a baseball bat as their paws flailed in the air and they screamed in pain. Do you really want your sons to have as a role model a man who shares similar traits with serial killers? Either eliminate gratuitous violence in football or ban the sport in high schools and colleges. Once the NFL loses its meat market for future players maybe then they will look at commonsense rules to protect players’ health. Fifteen yards for a personal foul, forget it. Kick them out of two games for grabbing a face mask and we’ll see how many coaches encourage their players to “take out” their opponents.
R January 13, 2013 at 11:51 PM
I disagree, was I disrespectful? Did I make any personal attacks? Any curse words? All I was saying is that comparing football to slavery was very far fetched and gave him a link to a list of sport injuries stats.
R January 14, 2013 at 12:01 AM
All the years that I have played, not once did I ever hear anyone try to "take out" an opponent. As a matter of fact when there was an injury on the field, both teams would take a knee and remain silent in respect. When the injured player would leave the field we would clap. Being a good player does not require you to plow into anything, if you are a offensive player, your goal is to elude someone tackling you. As for Michael Vick, that is apples and oranges, what one player did should not be the face of what thousands didn't do. That would be like saying all black people are at fault because Vick was black. Also, I don't see many Vick jerseys on kids these days. As for facemask (and other personal foul) penalties, if it was deliberate or a hard foul, the player gets ejected and suspended for a game. If that happens twice in a year, he is done for the year. Football is getting larger and larger every year, and because there are very little injuries (look at some stats on Google if you don't take my word), football will remain in schools.
AHS'95 January 14, 2013 at 12:01 AM
I think this thread is about if you would let your kids play football, not which is safer football, skiing or driving in an automobile. Nor is it about banning football. American football, and I say American because football is really soccer, is a great sport but dangerous. If it was up to me my kids wouldn't be allowed to ski either. But sometime you have to have to let them live their own lives even if they might have to learn how to walk and talk again after they recover from brain damage.
R January 14, 2013 at 12:21 AM
You're right, but of course those topics would come up when you are discussing the reasons to not let your child play. The point that I am trying to get across is that it is not as dangerous as people think it is, and it is getting safer. The rules are changing at all levels of football to prevent concussions. The stats are out there, but people ignore them because the game looks rough. An elbow to the temple during a basketball game is just as dangerous as anything during a football game.
David Cohen January 14, 2013 at 01:49 AM
R, of course, is wrong with his happy talk about the football becoming safer and the rules changing to prevent concussions. The game is rough because it IS rough. It's not an optical illusion. And the comparisons to other sports in which contact occurs is fundamentally off course ... in that in none of these other sports is hitting an integral part of the game, as it is in football.
Stephanie Travis January 14, 2013 at 10:42 PM
If you don’t think coaches ever encourage their players to take out opponents I suggest you Google the New Orleans Saints and Gregg Williams. It is true that offensive football players live longer than the average American male, probably because they have a much lower rate of smoking than the average male and they have access to better health care. However, defensive players have an average life span of about 54 years, 20 years less than the average American male. The number is getting worse, probably due to the increase in heart disease caused by, among other things, the increasing weight carried by more and more linemen. Just being black doesn’t make you a role model, being an excellent football player does, for many young boys. Torturing animals is no big deal. After all, Michael Vick did it and he makes millions and that’s all that matters, right? Is that who you want your sons cheering as he runs to the end zone?
Stephanie Travis January 14, 2013 at 10:43 PM
Many organizations injure human beings because their first priority is making money. But we fight those companies to try and make sure their employees are safe and they don’t harm the public with their products. What would happen if it was found that a company in America operated in such a way that many of its workers had a life span 20 years shorter than the average American, where thousands of its employees were subject to concussions and other health issues, due to their jobs? Would we just shrug our shoulders, look the other way, and say that’s part of the cost of doing business and no one forces those employees to work for that company? We do if its football and even if it’s children who are the employees taking the risks.
Eden O'Brien-Brenner January 18, 2013 at 04:37 PM
From what my son says, we are the only parents who do not allow their kids to play football. I have 2 boys at AHS and one who has always wanted to play. We've said no for the past 8 years and are continuing to do so. So recent brain damage info to us was not a surprise, just validation for a safe decision.
ECFamily January 18, 2013 at 05:26 PM
Several factors play a role in not allowing my son to play team football: --having a doctor for a father, who told us the injuries he had seen as a result of football, including concussions, broken clavicles, and so on; --recent (and not-so-recent) research and studies on brain injuries as a result of football --my own experiences as a high school student, and witnessing a classmate injured on the field during a game, and later finding out that he was paralyzed from the neck down. With all of the other options for team sports (my son plays baseball, soccer, tennis, and swims), he will not play football. He gets it, and agrees with this decision. He has seen the research, and has no desire to play.
Arthur Battram January 20, 2013 at 12:30 PM
For another take on children and risky physical activity, have a look here: http://alameda.patch.com//blog_posts/please-dont-help-my-kids There's a lively, considered and considerate debate about children playing and parents (and others) letting them get on with it...

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