Children are playing tackle football before they’re even capable of tying their own shoes and the results are catastrophic.
Kids as young as 5 years old are participating in tackle football despite the health risks. The Concussion Legacy Foundation strongly encourages tackle football to be reserved for those 14 and older, to decrease the likelihood of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
CTE is a brain disease that causes aggression, depression, paranoia, dementia and other serious cognitive and behavioral problems. This disease is often linked to tackle football. So much so, that a child who starts playing tackle football at age 5 is 10 times more likely to suffer from CTE than someone who starts at age 14.
Considering this shocking fact, whether children should engage in tackle football before their teen years shouldn’t even be up for debate, especially since it’s not necessary for them to be successful. There are plenty of professional football players who didn’t play tackle football when they were little, and bypassing tackling doesn’t mean that children can’t love and play the sport.
Flag football is a safer alternative that can still allow children to participate in football, minus the tackling and risk of concussion. This will allow players to perfect the fundamentals of football and prepare themselves before they reach an appropriate tackling age.
Even if participating in tackle football before the age of 14 increases the likelihood of going pro, we need to take a step back and ask ourselves if the chance of being a star football player is worth the brain damage. Football is a great sport, but getting children involved in anything before their bodies are prepared for it isn’t worth the risk.
Football will still thrive, even if drastic safety measures are taken, but there’s a high chance that many children will not.