A report published over the summer revealed that 99 percent of deceased former NFL players whose brains were analyzed suffered from Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, known as CTE. This shocking report has led many, including sports commentator Gregg Easterbrook, to question the popularity of football in America.
In a post for his Tuesday Morning Quarterback column, posted at the Weekly Standard, Easterbrook specifically questions allowing children to play football.
More reports and studies are showing that the harsh impact football has on the body is leading to early dementia, anxiety, depression, and other health consequences.
Forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu, on whose life the 2015 Will Smith film Concussion is based, believes contact sports should be banned for minors and should be treated for those below the age of 18 much like cigarettes and alcohol.
Easterbrook agrees with Omalu that adult NFL players should be allowed to participate in the sport at their own risk, but youth are a different matter. Plus, he notes, there are many, many more youth athletes than there are NFL athletes (roughly 700 to one).
“Youth players are too young to consent to risk, and their adolescent brain cases and necks are more vulnerable than those of adult athletes. Society does not allow cigarettes to be marketed to 10 year olds. Yet the NFL actively markets tackle football to the very young,” he writes.
“Looking at the big picture,” he continues, “football is not especially dangerous—except to children. That’s a problem that can be solved by banning youth tackle leagues.”