To what extent does playing football in high school affect a teenagers future? A scientific lens. From youth football to professional football, there has recently been a major dilemma regarding concussions and player safety.  As stated by the NSTA (National Science Teachers Organization), which is a reputable organization that advises congress with education and funding issues, over 4,000 former professional players have sued the NFL for not protecting them from long term health risks from concussions and head trauma (The Science Teacher, 2013).

Concussions not only cause short term effects among athletes, but they can also significantly affect their future. Problems with memory, concentration, and personality changes are all common after a football career filled with head trauma (University of Utah Health, 2016). These long term effects are what encouraged so many retired NFL players to sue the league.

It has gotten to the point that many former football players, even former high school and college players, are not allowing their kids participate in the sport they dedicated so much time to.  With less and less parents allowing their children to participate in the game, it begs the question, to what extent does playing youth affect a teenagers future? The head trauma caused by football can have numerous harmful diseases. The two most common diseases that retired NFL players develop are Alzheimer’s disease and ALS.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, when comparing football players to your average person, “brain and nervous system disorders were more than three times higher among players” (NIOSH, 2013). For these reasons, youth football may be on the decline in the coming years. Beginning around 2010, when the effects football can have on players started to become known, like this study, it has become a hot topic whether our youth should keep playing it. Thesis.As mentioned above, repeated blows to the head can have numerous harmful side effects. Firstly, and what is seen most prominently, is the effect these blows can have on a players memory. Up to this point, there has been few studies on youth football players while the more extensive studies have been conducted on collegiate and professional athletes.

As mentioned by Daniella Emanuel, a Columbia University graduate for journalism and an expert writer for CNN, in 110 out of 111 former NFL players, a brain disease known as CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) had been developed (Emanuel, 2017). According to the Boston University Research Center, one of the many symptoms of CTE is memory loss (Boston University Research). The development of CTE is not only limited to professional football players either. As said by Andy Martino, an expert sports writer who focuses on sports and social issues for the Huffington post, three out of fourteen former high school football players have also developed the brain disease known as CTE. In the same paper, Martino says that allowing your kids to play football is similar to child abuse, due to the repeated head trauma (Martino, 2017). Even though the numbers of CTE among high schoolers are not as high as professional players, it is still an alarming number. Another, more common, brain trauma is that of concussions. As written by Jeanie Lerche Davis, concussions also cause damage to memory.

This memory loss typically lasts for a week and does not usually have long term effects like CTE (Davis, 2003). As mentioned earlier, Alzheimer’s is also prominent among former football players. This is a disease that attacks a person’s memory as well and often does not allow them to even recognize family members. Memory loss after a football career is a risk, no matter at which age group. In addition to football causing memory problems, in many cases, it causes personality and attitude changes.

This is often seen with people diagnosed with CTE. According to the concussion foundation, mood changes are inevitable when someone has CTE. These mood changes can lead to both depression and irritability (Concussion Foundation). Michael King was a former collegiate athlete. He suffered from depression after he finished playing football.

This depression made him divorce his wife and caused a rift between himself and his kids. Eventually, Michael King Committed suicide due to this depression (Martino, 2017). Now, this is extremely relevant when about youth football because King was not a professional athlete. And even though he was not exposed to playing as many years as a professional athlete, he still got a severe form of CTE which led to his suicide. This can easily happen to a former high school player as well.

Next, Alzheimer’s is also common among former players. According to the Alzheimer’s association, about forty percent of people suffering from Alzheimer’s develop some form of depression as well (Alzheimer’s association). This goes to show the risks playing football can have, which often lead to memory loss and depression.

 With the memory and personality problems developed by playing youth and professional football, there have been a number of experts that have weighed in on the issue, saying that flag football is a safer alternative. Although this is a popular consensus, this may not be true. Due to the fact that flag football does is not considered a contact sport, many people have dubbed it as the safest option for a child who wants the play football.

Researches at the University of Iowa health care have proved this theory wrong. According to a study published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, injuries were more common in youth flag football than in youth tackle football and there was not a notable difference in head trauma injuries between the two sports (University of Iowa Health Care, 2017). Now, even though there is meant to be no contact or hitting in flag football, it is inevitable. The fact that a defensive player must grab a flag close to the body of the offensive player is going to initiate unwanted contact in many cases.

For this reason, head butts and other injuries are as common in a flag football game than a tackle football game. All in all, this study is suggesting that youth tackle football is not as bad as many experts believe and that a non contact sport such as youth flag football, is as dangerous. 


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