Truth…we just couldn’t handle spewed Jack Nicholson from that famous movie A Few Good Men, a few years ago. Now TRUTH is something we must tell and ultimately see professed by Will Smith from the more recent movie Concussion. Now, Will may have been snubbed from the Oscars, leaving movie goers in bewilderment by the stellar performance of the life of Dr. Bennet Omalu, but in real life, this truth has hit home. Concussion, a movie that forces us to see how dangerous America’s past-time can be from the eyes of Hollywood, now a concussion is the unfortunate reality of many parents of the same pastime, we know as football. In 2015 Frontline’s concussion watch has recorded 199 concussions in the NFL (http://apps.frontline.org, 2015). The question that many want to know is the number of concussions that occurred in Little League football over the same amount of time. With so many games being played in so many corners of our great nation, the number of injuries soar into the thousands with the average head impacts at about 158 per player (ESPN.go.com. 2015). Since kids are prone to be kids, in that they fall off beds, fall out of trees, hit unthinkable objects on bikes, and the lists goes on and on when it comes to children and injuries. One would wonder, why the uproar over football injuries, why the uproar over potential injuries? Let’s talk about why? Studies have shown that young brains, those 14 and under, are more susceptible to head injuries because they lack the nerve formations that protect and strengthen the brain.
Dr. Robert Cantu, a neurosurgeon and colleague of Stern’s at Boston University, said that young brains are more vulnerable to hits because they lack the coating on the nerve fibers, called myelin, that provides strength and helps transmit information. In 2011, Cantu began advising families with children to avoid tackle football and stick with flag football if possible through age 14—(ESPN.go.com. 2015)
Many experts believe that before the age of 14 many children should stick to flag football or touch football instead of full on body contact because of the forming brain. With this information at the forefront of the world today, why do we have so many youth football games and other full body contact sports that encompass players at young ages? Is it the belief that the child will gain more skill at a younger age? Is it the dreams of the parent to get to the games as soon as possible and cheer on their baller in a “real” game? No matter what the need, the risks seem to far outweigh any potential gains.
Just food for thought, Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots, and some say one of the best to ever grace the game of football, didn’t start playing until he was in high school. While you let that sink in, ask yourself, will you let your child play contact sports, with this research, in the future?
Written By: Sabreen Shabazz-Straker, Contributing Writer, The Modern Domestic