CTE and Youth Football

I am constantly asked if I will allow my son to play football with all the data that is out there concerning the CTE. My simple answer is yes. If my sons want to play football, they can. I refuse to hold them out of something they want to do because of the dangers that they may encounter. If I used this logic for every decision I make for my kids, they would stay inside and never leave the house, and even that may be dangerous too if you look at catastrophes that happen in homes.

However, my main reason is situated in that I do not want my son to get 35 and resent me for not allowing him to do something he wants to do, which I don’t hold any ill will towards. Yes, football is a contact sport. I agree, but a recent study revealed that there are more serious injuries in cheerleading than in football. However, we don’t look at those sports the same. I am not making a case for any other child, but when parents ask me -this is my response almost 100% of the time.

Ultimately you have to do what you think is right for your child. However, although I take this position, I must qualify it a bit in that I coached my oldest son the first five years of his football career so I could be there to help teach tackling drills. So, must emphatically state that I do not throw caution to the wind. I yell one thing to my kids when they are doing anything- safety first.

By the same token, when I coach, I teach the drills. I like to see coaches who are properly trained to teach the drills correctly. After being around the sport for many years there are just not enough coaches who actually know what they are doing, especially in youth sports.

There’s a misconception that if a person played the sport they can teach proper technique with regards to how players should tackle- and this is just not always true. There’s a lot of information out there. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. So, you must do your homework and make sure that your son is being properly coached. If you have any questions, film as much practice as you can and post it on the internet or send to a friend or coach to ask for advice. Most people are willing to help because we all want to see the game remain as safe as possible.

Also look for the signs. If the coach never stops to tell kids to keep their heads up then you may want to take a closer look. I think that the lessons learned in the sport are valuable enough to allow your kids to play if it is their choice.

About the author: Dr. Kendrick Scott