To Play or Not

July 24, 2018

Josh and Shagra Stone, two athletic trainers, recently published an article expressing their thoughts on whether they will allow their six-year-old son to ever play tackle football. They have ultimately decided to not allow him to suit up.

They discuss the risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is caused by repeated contact. They write that while “injuries are always part of the game,” adults tell their children to play hard despite years of studies detailing the risks of head injuries.

A 2017 study by Julie Stamm found that those who start playing tackle football before 12 are more likely to suffer behavior problems, cognitive impairment, and depression. The Stones also cite a 2017 study by Ann McKee, which looked at the donated brains of football players, and found CTE in the brains of 88 percent of them--21 percent of the high school players, 91 percent of the college players, and 99 percent of professional players.

The authors mention that Illinois recently passed the CTE Prevention Act, banning tackle football for players under 12 years old, as well as similar legislature in California, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. They said flag football was a possible alternative to tackle football.

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