To the Editor:
My dad played football in college to pay for his scholarship, and without any encouragement from him, I played high school football – and have a messed-up shoulder to show for it.
My cousin played in the NFL, and when he left the game, he never even watched it on television. He said, “It’s just a business.”
I saw PBS’ Frontline program “League of Denial,” reporting 20 years of research on brain damage in NFL football players. I read the New York Times’ article “Tackling, at the turn of the century” about Teddy Roosevelt’s attempts to eliminate the brutality of football. He had to settle for only a few minor rules changes.
Players are still being told that if a player hits you in the head and “rings your bell” just suck it up and keep playing. Damaged knees and shoulders are a given when you play high school and college football, but brain damage from concussions and sub-concussive hits is subtle, invisible and, most often, doesn’t show up until much later in life.
I am convinced that kids under the age of 14 should not to be playing football, no matter how it’s taught or how much padding they wear. Their young brains are still developing and are especially vulnerable to getting shaken and injured, and they and their parents won’t necessarily have any idea of the damage being done.
Is it worth risking permanent brain damage just to play a little football?