The end of tackle football?

by Anthony Bradley
Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012, at 11:39 am

I have friends with sons under 7-years-old who have decided their boys will never play organized tackle football. For them, the risk of long-term brain damage is too great.

Every week it seems we hear about college or NFL players leaving the game because of a blow to the head. Two Sundays ago, three NFL starting quarterbacks—Philadelphia’s Michael Vick, San Francisco’s Alex Smith, and Chicago’s Jay Cutler—all suffered concussions. Because of the frequency of such injuries in the NFL, many are beginning to wonder if children or adults should still play the game at all.

Even former NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw doesn’t think it’s worth the risk for children. “If I had a son today,” he said, “I would not let him play football.”

According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) national study of athletes ages 19-and-under between 2001 and 2009, 25,376 football players suffered concussions, second only to bicycling (26,212).

Overall, because of these numbers, it’s time to reassess the utility of entire sport. Something has to change in the game or the way it is played. And football fans need to be prepared for the day when, for the sake of saving our children’s brains, tackling may be permanently replaced with the pulling of colorful little flags.

Anthony Bradley

Anthony is associate professor of religious studies at The King's College in New York and a research fellow at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty.

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