June 1, 2020
If pubic opinion is any indication, this fall fewer young kids will be playing tackle football; more than likely fewer youth leagues will be offering it.
According to a recent poll, the majority of adults think tackle football is unsafe for children under age 14. The poll, conducted by the University of Massachusetts-Lowell’s Center for Public Opinion surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults to learn what activities they believed were appropriate for kids at various ages.
The results reported in Education Week’s Schooled in Sports blog, found that “a whopping 78 percent of respondents deemed it inappropriate to introduce tackling into football earlier than the age of 14, while 20% suggested it’s never appropriate at any age.”
What About Soccer?
Football is not the only sport raising concerns. The poll also found that 60% of respondents believe heading the ball in soccer is unsafe for kids before high school.
These results should come as no surprise given the growing alarm about the long-term effects associated with sports-related concussions. Jeffrey Greeson, associate professor of political science who worked on the research explains:
This poll confirms a growing public awareness that concussions can result in CTE, a degenerative brain disease, and that CTE is now viewed as a serious public health issue. The poll also confirms that the public believes that one of the greatest threats to athletes is at the youth level. The public’s negative view of tackle football for children under 14 and heading a soccer ball in youth soccer may lead to further changes in these sports that can have a ripple effect on sports for older children, especially at the high school level.
In the past several years, as more cases of CTE have emerged, there’s been a steady drumbeat by those in the know to postpone the age that children engage in contact sports to prevent possible concussions. Notes Education Week writer Bryan Toporek, “It appears as though the American Public has received the message loud and clear.”