When somebody thinks about American traditions, football is one of the items that runs through their head. Football has been around since the ancient Greek and Roman’s played it as a peasant game, through modern day to how the sport has evolved to model something new throughout the entire world. Traditionally in the United States, football has always been a sport for the tough little kids who had a lot of anger built up inside them. Their parents figured it was a less violent way to hit something, while not causing physical or lasting damage, although new studies suggest that might not be completely true. Many NFL and college football players have and are continuing to present lasting effects from some of the injuries they sustained while playing as a child and even as an adult. Due to the risk to their body and the high severity injury they can endure, football should not be allowed to be played in an organized or sponsored league at the grade school level.
Besides broken bones and ligament damage, the next leading injury in football is a concussion. This occurs in more than 7% of football related injuries. A concussion is a brain injury that occurs from a blow to the body and to the head. All concussions are serious and have the ability to alter a student-athlete’s behavior, thinking, and physical functioning. Concussions are a form of a TBI, traumatic brain injury. Men are already three times as likely to suffer from a TBI, so by playing a contact sport that requires and expects many head-on collisions, does not help the situation if you are trying to avoid injuries. This is the price some people have to pay to ultimately play the sport they love.
The developmental aspect and maturity of kids compared to adults is also an issue worth talking about. Kids are not fully developed and not completely mature enough to make important decisions that could hurt or hinder someone else such as a collision. Kids just think it is going to help their team win that game and get instant gratification but usually don’t consider the long term effects it could have on others. Besides not being mature enough, an average persons brain is not fully developed until the age of 25. Many people think you are fully grown and fully matured when you become 18 but that is not true. Although you are allowed to enlist in the army and are legally allowed to be tried as an adult in court, when you are 18 years of age,your prefrontal cortex is not fully developed as well as the brain’s reward system. Female’s brains also develop on average 2 years earlier than male’s brains.
I think football should not be played in an organized league until the college or professional level. Some may argue that the level of play in college will decrease due to the lack of practice and game scenarios in younger athletes. This is the price athletes and fans have to pay in order to keep our children safe and healthy throughout their football careers. This will decrease the amount of injures that could possibly linger later on in their lives and potentially cause a greater impact than they realize now. In September of this year, the National Football League reached a 100 million dollar agreement with all 32 teams to support engineering advancements and medical research strictly for concussions and head injuries. Why should we waste all this money on medical research that could be initially prevented? By simply just eliminating play, you also eliminate all the negative aspects, such as injuries.
It is also very hard to measure the loss of brain function in children. Once a head-on collision occurs, as it does in football, doctors might not be able to determine the extent of the injury until much later. In children some neurologic deficits after head trauma may not manifest for many years. Frontal lobe functions, for example, develop relatively late in a child's growth, so that injury to the frontal lobes may not become apparent until the child reaches adolescence as higher level reasoning develops. Since the frontal lobes control our social interactions and interpersonal skills, early childhood brain damage may not manifest until such frontal lobe skills are called into play later in development. Likewise, injury to reading and writing centers in the brain may not become apparent until the child reaches school age and shows signs of delayed reading and writing skills. It is not worth the risk to put all of these developmental aspects of life at jeopardy just to play in a football game with your friends.
The NCAA, National Collegiate Athletic Association, recognizes that it is still possible to suffer a concussion or serious brain injury while wearing a helmet. So what is the point of wearing a helmet in the first place? The NCAA would argue that they provide a list of rules and regulations to follow so they can issue now injury. To prevent a concussion or head-on collision, they say you are supposed to tackle with your head up and to not lead with your helmet. Any player that does not adhere to these rules will get a 15-yard personal foul as the spot of the misconduct. Although I do believe this is a great rule and it shows how the organization is not condoning misbehavior, there is no way these rules are able to stop the action itself. The only way to guarantee less or no head injuries in football are to stop play completely.
Is playing youth football worth all of the injuries that you could possibly acquire? I think that due to the high-risk football brings to kids; it should not be played until the collegiate and pro levels. This enables the brain and body to mature even more and decrease the amount of injuries, especially head traumas that are sustained while playing football. By decreasing the number of lasting effects a TBI can bring, and simply limiting the amount of football being played, it could encourage medical professionals all over to find cures and effective treatments for the few brain conditions that are left. It allows doctors to focus in on a much narrower pool of patients and create specific treatment plans for those few individuals that have chronic problems. Although football lies in the hearts of the American people, more players are laying on ER beds with commas, concussions, broken bones, torn muscles, and pulled ligaments. It is a real American tragedy to see all these dedicated men fall at the arms of such a dangerous sport. To think, these many athletes dedicated all their lives to a career that at the end proved to be more damaging than rewarding. Why continue encouraging such an aggressive sport when there are so many other options that are equally as entertaining, but are only half as harmful to the human body.