Playing football can kill you.
Even the NFL, whose top health and safety officer acknowledged the link earlier this year between football and CTE, no longer denies this. With that knowledge in mind, parents who allow their children to play the sport before high school are negligent and reckless.
The latest harrowing football tale revolves around former fullback Kevin Turner, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2010 and passed away in March at 46 years old. The end of Turner’s life was torture. He wasn’t able to talk in his final days, which he spent laying in bed and getting fed through a tube. There’s no doubt football was to blame for his miserable existence. But now we know the full extent.
McKee has examined the brains of 95 deceased football players over the years, and CTE has been found in 91 of them. Though much of the blame for the deadly neurological disorder is placed on concussions, research shows it goes far deeper than that. There’s a direct correlation between the number of times a person is hit in the head and his or her chances of developing CTE. When I spoke to prominent player safety advocate Chris Nowinski earlier this year, he said one of the solutions to assuaging football’s brain trauma crisis is to ban the sport until the high school level.
Though the NFL has invested tens of millions of dollars into making youth football safer, the sincerity of its efforts have been questioned. In July, the New York Times reported Heads Up Football, a program that teaches safe tackling procedures to coaches and players, hasn’t reduced injuries –– despite the league’s words to the contrary. The NFL previously claimed the initiative decreased the number of injuries by 76 percent and concussions by roughly 30 percent.
Despite the NFL’s continued propaganda, a number of prominent public figures –– ranging from President Barack Obama to Mike Ditka –– have said they wouldn’t allow their kids to play football. With all of the information we have at our disposal, that’s the only responsible choice.