Youth football brain damage study reveals frightening statistics
SPOKANE, Wash. — A new study shows kids who play tackle before the age of 12 are more likely to get the brain injuries seen in retired NFL players.
Dr. Anne McKee and her team at Boston University looked at the brains of 246 former football players. She concluded those that played before age 12 saw cognitive symptoms and mood swings an average of 13 years earlier than those who didn’t.
Over the last 24 hours, parents have sounded off on social media, mostly speaking out against involvement in youth tackle football.
But not all share that opinion.
“Oh it’s been wonderful for him,” said Evi Ohman, who will soon have two sons playing youth tackle football.
Ohman understands the reservations parents might have, but views tackle football as an overall positive.
“I believe it all starts with a positive coach, proper tackling and safety 101 starting from the get go,” said Ohman.
“I’ve had this conversation so many times with so many parents,” explained Dan Pearse, who has years of experience on the board with Post Falls Junior Football.
“I don’t look at football any different than I look at riding a bike, a kid riding a dirt bike, a kid playing soccer. A kid could get injured in any sport.”
Nearly all brains used in the study came from former professional players, which means those that played junior football would have done so decades ago.
“I look at the level of coaching technique-wise and safety wise compared to when I played, and it’s come so far,” said Pearse.
Due partly to a lack of interest in youth tackle football, last year Spokane Youth Sports Association discontinued the sport altogether – encouraging parent to choose the option of flag football. However, when it comes to sports, there’s no such thing as completely safe.