Erin Stewart: Should children play tackle football?

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Two new studies published in July give parents more information about the risks youths face playing football.

Kids across America are donning jerseys and helmets this week, heading back onto the football field.

And while their thoughts may be on the promised glory of the Friday night lights, many parents are thinking about their children’s brains and wincing with every helmet clash.

Parent are understandably nervous about the effects of tackle football on their children after a recent study from Boston University found chronic traumatic encephalopathy (a neurogenerative brain disease) in 99 percent of the deceased football players’ brains donated to the study.

Out of 202 brains of former football players, chronic brain trauma was diagnosed in 177, including in all but one of the NFL players, several of the high school players and the majority of the college players.

“There’s no question that there’s a problem in football. That people who play football are at risk for this disease,” said Dr. Ann McKee, director of Boston University’s CTE Center and co-author of the study, in CNN.com article.

The study does recognize potential bias because relatives may have submitted the donated brains due to clinical symptoms their loved ones showed while alive.

The high numbers, however, have raised questions on whether tackle football is also detrimental for younger children and have reignited the discussion on ways to save one of America’ s favorite pastime without endangering its youth.

My son is only 1 year old so this decision is far in the future for me, but I’ve watched friends grapple with the central question: Should we let our kid play football? Their sons want to play. All their friends play. People have been playing football forever, right?

Some of my friends decided to put off tackle football until junior high, which means their son is suiting up for his first tackle team this fall. His mother is already anxious about him going head…

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