Who else would know better than the brain injury community, especially the MTBI (mild traumatic brain injury) and TBI (traumatic brain injury) survivors, what it is like to suffer through a bad concussion or more severe brain injury? This is why the Brain Injury Network has called for the elimination of violent contact sports, especially when it comes to kids, since 2010. American tackle football and additional violent contact sports (e.g., boxing) and athlete conduct (e.g., head-butting in soccer or cheerleading pyramiding) are too dangerous and rough for children and can lead to brain concussions and worse.
Effects of athletic and sports concussions can be severe and even, in rare situations, deadly. Even so-called "mild" concussions can be problematic. Some recent research appears to indicate that someone does not even need to have a concussion (sometimes hard tackles or blows are enough) to cause an adverse effect (slowing of memory function) on the brain. Additionally, the newest research findings are showing that there are potentially lifelong effects from childhood concussions. The author of this piece is not a medical doctor, but anyone who is intelligent can read these latest findings and report them.
School districts and others who operate physical education activities for kids should discontinue dangerous athletic programming. This is what is in the best interests of both children and society.
Dangerous Sports (e.g., Tackle Football, Rugby, Boxing) and Other Unsafe Athletic Activities (e.g., Head Butting, Cheerleading Pyramiding)
New medical studies are sounding an alarm about the perils of concussion and brain injury in athletics and sports, particularly in contact sports such as football, rugby, and boxing. There are now studies that show the potentiality for long-term and even lifelong detrimental effects from concussions. It is not a rarity for a child to suffer a concussion while playing in school-sponsored or other organized rough sport or athletic activities.
So how many of these children are going to need cognitive retraining as they recover from a concussion? How many will lose weeks or months of classroom knowledge due to a concussion? How will they feel knowing they are falling behind on the schoolwork and lagging behind their peers? They will probably push to get back to the athletic activity because that is a place they had some esteem, but will that be in their longterm best interest? How many will have to be tutored or homeschooled? How many will never quite catch up on their academics because they have missed fundamental and key concepts in math, science, English and other subjects because they couldn't remember, concentrate, or memorize while they recovered from their concussions? How many will never quite recover? How many will graduate with C's and D's instead of A's and B's because of concussion or other brain damage? How many will not get to go to college or develop their careers to their full potential because they had a concussion while playing in rough school sports? How many will develop dementia later in life because they played tackle football as little kids or teenagers? It is only a tiny fraction, but how many children will die because of a severe concussion? Wouldn’t it just be smarter for parents to steer their children to less dangerous sports?
Tackle (American) Football
Approximately 2.8 million American children ages 6 to 14 play organized youth tackle football. Despite many claims to the contrary, there is no way to prevent football concussions and brain injuries. The brains of these young children are still developing and when they have a concussion it can hit them very hard.
Cheerleading Stunting or Pyramid Building
According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, the leading cause of catastrophic injuries in female athletes is cheerleading. And according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, rates of cheerleading accident have gone up. Over 65% of all catastrophic injuries for high school females result from cheerleading (Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital (BRI) Will Calling Cheerleading a Sport Prevent Injuries? Oct. 30, 2012) The most dangerous activities in cheerleading are stunting or building tall pyramids. Examples of the most dangerous activities include building several-level pyramids, the one-legged stunts and the high flying basket tosses. Why not ban these activities from cheerleading altogether?
See also: University of Michigan (2009, August 4). Cheerleading Is Leading Cause Of Catastrophic Injury In Young Women. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 2, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2009/08/090803222113.htm
Why aren’t school districts eliminating dangerous contact sports from the physical education curriculum altogether? Why are school districts permitting, sometimes even demanding, that children under their supervision engage in dangerous contact sports and athletic activities? Don’t schools have an ethical requirement to protect school children from any activities that are dangerous?
Letter to the Editor in re Children and Football
This is a letter regarding head injuries (concussions, etc.) and contact sports that ran in the Press Democrat Santa Rosa newspaper on September 16, 2012.
Football and other contact sports (such as boxing) are not in the same league as other sports. One of the main goals of football is for the athlete to physically dominate and overpower his opponent. It is an integral part of the game. In what other context would it be OK for someone to slam into or knock down another person? Generally, wouldn’t that kind of activity elsewhere land someone in jail?
With all of the research coming out about concussions, people need to remove their blinders. Don’t be fooled or reassured into thinking that football can be made safe. Football is too dangerous for children (or adults, for that matter). The smartest thing parents can do is to encourage their children to play other, less violent sports.
Now that it is known that it doesn’t even take a head blow to cause a concussion (a forceful enough body blow can suffice), no helmet, safety program, neck strengthening regimen, coach training, parent education, or baseline cognition testing program will help once the deed is done. A study just came out that one single concussion in youth may adversely impact on someone’s life even forty years later. Is this really worth it to people?
We can start by not introducing football at all to the little children. It will be impossible to wean our generation off of it, plus there are a lot of people (players themselves, coaches, parents, professional teams, etc.) invested in the sport of football, and they are not going to want to give it up. But, at least think of the next generation, the little ones. It is our duty to safeguard their futures. The best way to protect kids from football concussions (and potentially even more serious brain injuries) is to wean society off of football altogether.
President, Brain Injury Network
Note: It appeared that the response of the local school board (of one of the large local school board districts) was to hire a doctor to perform cognitive baseline testing on its football program athletes. Later the school district announced that all athletes in their school programs would be able to get the cognitive baseline testing as well. The school district also forked out monies to have athletic trainers at all of the football contests. This is only one school district in the area. These procedures, though admirable, still do not prevent concussions. They will only put procedures into place that will help a child once the child has had a concussion. For example, the child will be taken off of the field. The child will have subsequent cognitive testing and the baseline testing that was previously conducted will be evaluated against new findings. However, there will still be the messy recovery from the concussion. Wouldn't it be better not to put children in harms' way in the first place where possible? Eliminate the more dangerous sports. Sure, there is a potentiality for concussion in any activity or sport, but why expose children to activities (such as tackle football) that pretty much ensure they will have a concussion sooner or later.
Have You Ever Met a Person Who Played Tackle Football Who Didn't Have His Bell Rung at Least Once?