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Is concussion risk worth keeping kids from tackle football?

In recent years, there have been multiple stories about ex-NFL players who have sustained brain injuries. Their work on the football field caused them various head injuries and left them with permanent, significant brain damage. Some former players' suicides have even been connected to what football had done to their mental health.

Those sad stories have inspired more safety conversations regarding concussions and football, and the conversations range from NFL status to the fields of children's schools in Wisconsin and across the globe. If big professional players are getting seriously hurt on the field, then is it really safe for kids to play the contact sport?

NPR addresses that safety concern in a recent piece. Football is more than a beloved sport to some families. Just look at how passionate Packers fans get every Sunday. For many, football is a way of life, an activity that they have envisioned their children participating in since before they were born.

But even the most devout football fans might be doubting the safety of youth football. They have the risk of concussion on their minds and worry that their wish to watch their children play the sport is not as important as protecting their kid's brains from the concussion risks. According to USA Football, an estimated 3 million kids between the ages of 6 and 14 participate in tackle football. That number has stayed quite consistent over the years, despite the point that at least one medical professional, Dr. Robert Cantu, advocates making kids wait until they are at least 14 to play the game.

Due to the recent stories about NFL players' injuries and the related personal injury lawsuits, schools have taken notice of brain injury risks. Many schools have concussion regulations in place that are meant to keep kids from playing or returning to the game if they exhibit any sign of a head injury. Is this enough? Do you think that tackle football is too dangerous for young children?

Source: NPR, "Head Injuries Rattle Even Devout Football Parents," Tom Goldman, Oct. 15, 2012

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