Friday, June 1, 2012

A Single Father's Take on Playing Football in the "Concussion Era"

How does a single father answer the question, "Dad, can I play football?"

Much has been written and said about football related head trauma. Recently, father, Super Bowl MVP, and all-around good guy, Kurt Warner, said “he’s not sure” if he should let his sons play football. The father of New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, echoes a similar sentiment, “I would be very hesitant to let him play (football today).”

Another school year is ending and another season of preseason football training camps will start again a couple of months. So, given the recent media attention to head injuries among NFL players, what should the single father do when he gets "the football question?" Here are a few things to consider.
There are about 30 million kids under the age of 14 playing an organized sport, according to a research study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Among the participants, roughly 10% are injured. The most common injury is a strain or sprain. A head injury is most likely to occur during cycling, skateboarding, and skating, not football. According to, the concussion rate among high school football players is 60 per 100,000, or 0.06%. In contrast, based on data from the United States Department of Transportation’s “Fatal Injury and Accident Data Related to Licensed Drivers,” operating a motor vehicle, the rates for serious injuries (like a concussion) and fatalities is significantly higher than six one-hundredths of a percent.
Almost by definition, living involves risk. We’re probably not going to prevent our teenage children from driving a car, or even cycling, skateboarding, or skating for that matter, right? Concussion related tragedies that have occurred among former NFL players like Junior Seau are tragic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a single father should prevent his son(s) from playing.
To reduce the risk of your children having an automobile accident, you encourage participation in formal and informal “driver education” classes. Do the same kind of thing relative to participating in football or any sport. Make sure your young athlete has the necessary safety equipment, appropriate fitness training, and proper coaching. Then, your kids will be able to participate in the sport they love and you’ll be able to enjoy watching them play.

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