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Haro, Jessica

Mr. Anspach

Senior Project Research Paper

7 Nov 2018

Should Kids Be Allowed To Play Football?

“The way football is being played currently, that I have seen, it's dangerous. It's

dangerous and it could impact their long-term mental health. You only get one brain”, states Ann

McKee, a Chief Neuropathologist for the National VA ALS Brain Bank. Whether it be for the

Super Bowl, Sunday morning games, Friday night high school matches, or seven year olds

playing football on a team, football is a very popular sport and is very famous amongst people in

America. There has been a lot of speculation on whether or not football is too dangerous to play.

American kids grow up loving and adoring football. Some parents are perfectly fine with football

being played, but according to Brenda Easter, a mother of a deceased football player, she is

against it. To the reason for this occurrence, her son died due to the fact of the effects that of

football had on him. She says, "I'm horrified every time an athlete runs out on a field on a Friday

night..." (Editorial). The reason for this is shocking. She lost her own child because of the

problems football caused. So the real question becomes: Is football too dangerous of a sport?

Although others may argue as well as say that football isn't too dangerous of a sport, it

actually is for three reasons: the amount of concussions footballers receive can increase

risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease; no particular type of helmet can keep children

100% safe from injuries; as well as could cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy,

otherwise known as CTE.

Football in America dates back to the 1800’s. In the article "Birth of Pro Football" it

states, “The sport of American football itself was relatively new in 1892. Its roots stemmed from
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two sports, soccer and rugby, which had enjoyed long-time popularity in many nations of the

world. On November 6, 1869, Rutgers and Princeton played what was billed as the first college

football game. However, it wasn't until the 1880s that a great rugby player from Yale, Walter

Camp, pioneered rules changes that slowly transformed rugby into the new game of American

Football” (Birth). This article also states, “Meanwhile, athletic clubs that sponsored a great

variety of sports teams became a popular phenomenon in the United States in the years

immediately after the Civil War. One of the sports the athletic club embraced was

football.”(Birth). By the 1880s, most athletic clubs had a football team. Competition was heated

and each club vowed to stock its teams with the best players available.Brenda Easter, the mother

against football, had a son named Zac. According to the Chicago Tribune, “Zac began playing

organized football when he was 8 and didn't stop until his senior year of high school in

Indianola, Iowa. Concussions marred his days as a linebacker. After he stopped playing, Zac

coped with depression, headaches and slurred speech. At 24, he took a shotgun from his father's

truck, drove to a state park, and blasted a hole into his chest. A postmortem examination of Zac's

brain confirmed what the young man had long suspected: He suffered from CTE.” (Editorial).

Chicago Tribune, in addition to the statement made previously, states, “CTE is back in the news,

thanks to a study led by Ann McKee, director of Boston University's CTE Center. McKee and

her team examined the brains of 111 deceased NFL players and found that all but one had CTE,

a degenerative disease associated with head trauma and linked to symptoms that include

depression, dementia and memory loss. McKee also found CTE in three of 14 deceased former

high school football players, and 48 of 53 deceased former players at the college level”

(Editorial).

Football is too dangerous of a sport due to the fact that no particular type of helmet can

keep children 100 percent safe from injuries. That is the key purpose for the football players to

be wearing a helmet. It isn’t there for looks, it’s there for protection. The helmet isn’t even doing
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much. According to Dave Bry, “The damage football players suffer need not be debated at this

point. The new Will Smith movie, Concussion, is based on one of the many books detailing the

mountain of scientific evidence proving that the sport shortens lives…”(Bry). Concussions are

going to happen, no matter what kind of helmet the player is wearing. Helmets are there to try to

“lessen” the pain and injury endured during the game. The player is always in a life threatening

situation by playing. Bry, in addition to the statement made previously, states, “Efforts to make

it safer with better equipment will not work, because the damage happens inside the players’

skulls, when the brain sloshes around and smashes against its bone casing.” (Bry). A players

brain is one of the most valuable parts of their body. No one should be playing and banging it

around like the candy inside of a piñata. According to Jennifer Shotz, a young a boy by the name

of Isaiah Kahut was “running with the ball when he was tackled. His head smacked the turf 一

hard.”(Shotz). The young boy was playing the game he loved, and resulted with a concussion.

He also ended up quitting the sport, even though he adored it. It was “an agonizing

decision”(Shotz) for him. Although others may argue that no sport is risk-free, football has a

much bigger risk factor as well as more life threatening outcomes in the end.

By children playing football, it could cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy, otherwise

known as CTE. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is when a protein called Tau forms clumps

that slowly spread all throughout the brain and kills brain cells. Bennet Omalu, a writer for the

New York Times, states “If a child who plays football is subjected to advanced radiological and

neurocognitive studies during the season and several months after the season, there can be

evidence of brain damage at the cellular level of brain functioning…” (Omalu) Brain damage is

a huge problem and isn’t solved with over-the-counter medicine. Omalu, in addition to the

statement made previously, states, “If that child continues to play over many seasons, these

cellular injuries accumulate to cause irreversible brain damage, which we know now by the name
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Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or C.T.E.…” (Omalu). This could lead to many problems

besides the health; It could lead to financial and family problems. Patrick Hruby, a writer for The

Atlantic, states, “Gandy, a neurologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, was studying the

brains of retired soldiers and football players, looking for signs of trouble like this. The scan that

stood out was of a retired National Football League player who had suffered 22 concussions over

the course of his 11-year career. Now approaching middle age, the player complained of memory

lapses and a short fuse—symptoms associated with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a

neurodegenerative disease linked to repetitive brain trauma.” (Hruby). How is it possible for a

retired soldier and a professional football player to have similar brain damage when one is

fighting for the country and the other is fighting for the ball? Dave Zirin spoke to Sean

Pamphilon, the director of the documentary The United States of Football, and who stated, “‘The

moment I realized I couldn't look at football the same way was when [former Chicago Bear]

Dave Duerson blew a hole in his chest and left an American flag on his bed with a suicide note,’

he said to me.”(Zirin). Dave Duerson took his own life because he could no longer handle the

brain damage he had, is death what the world needs to realize what’s wrong with this picture?

Although people may say that there are "techniques" to help with the risk, and baseline testing

pre-season, this still doesn’t stop the fact of players getting brain damage.

The amount of concussions footballers receive can increase risk of developing

Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a “type of dementia that causes problems with

memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time,

becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks”, states the Alzheimer’s association.

According to the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s research foundation, “Professional football

players are at increased risk of dying from Alzheimer’s disease, a new study reports. The

findings are consistent with earlier reports that concussions and other head injuries that damage

the brain can raise the risk of Alzheimer’s and other neurologic problems.”(Football). Footballers
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are constantly and consistently banging their heads against each other and everything else around

them. This leads to their concussions. The research foundation also states, “Other studies have

shown that among retired professional football players, those who experienced three or more

concussions are at increased risk of memory and thinking problems compared to those who had

fewer or no concussions.”(Football). There will always be some kind of brain damage involved if

the head is always being rammed at. This is what football players go through every time they

step out on the pitch. Alzheimer’s is only one of the many neurological problems that football

causes, and by the looks of it, that isn’t going to be changed anytime soon. Although some may

say that there could be a way of teaching children to play in a much safer way, that still won’t

stop them from going as aggressive as they do. Kids pour their heart and soul into sports, and

they won’t just stop playing so passionately.

Football is way too dangerous of a sport to play. The amount of concussions a football

player receives can increase risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease; no particular type of helmet

can keep children 100% safe from injuries; as well as could cause chronic traumatic

encephalopathy, otherwise known as CTE. The football helmet is there for protection, and the

brain is still bouncing off the skull no matter what kind of helmet the player wears. CTE leads to

players or ex-players taking their own lives because they can’t handle the brain damage from

playing. Football players are at an increased risk of dying from Alzheimer’s and people are still

not being affected by what’s truly going on. People are dying. Everyone is blinded by the

craziness of the game. America needs to open its eyes and realize what is happening to these

athletes. They are putting their own lives and futures at stake for everyone else’s entertainment.

It shouldn’t have to be a matter of life or death.


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Works Cited

Beaver, William. “The Future of Football.” Society, vol. 50, no. 4, Aug. 2013, p. 335.

EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s12115-013-9668-7. 3 Nov, 2018.


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Board, Editorial. “Football and CTE: The Dilemma for Parents.” Chicagotribune.com, 7 Aug.

2017, chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-football-concussions-nfl -cte-edit-

md-20170804-story.html. 3 Nov. 2018.

Bry, Dave. “American Football Is Too Dangerous, and It Should Be Abolished | Dave Bry.” The

Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 4 Jan. 2016 theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016

/jan/04/american-football-is-too-dangerous-and-it-should-be-abolished. 3 Nov, 2018.

“Football Players at Increased Alzheimer's Risk.” Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research

Foundation, 12 Nov. 2014, alzinfo.org/articles/football-players-increased-alzheimers-

risk/. 5 Nov. 2018.

Hruby, Patrick. “The Future of Detecting Brain Damage in Football.” The Atlantic, Atlantic

Media Company, 21 Sept. 2017, theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/09/football-brain-

injury-chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy/540459/. 5 Nov. 2018.

Omalu, Bennet. “Don't Let Kids Play Football.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 7

Dec. 2015, nytimes.com/2015/12/07/opinion/dont-let-kids-play-football.html. 3 Nov,

2018.

“Pro Football Hall of Fame.” Pro Football Hall of Fame Official Site,

profootballhof.com/football-history/birth-of-pro-football/. 3 Nov. 2018.

Shotz, Jennifer. “Should Kids Play Football?” Scholastic Scope, vol. 63, no. 6, Feb. 2015, p. 10.

EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aqh&AN=100855

782&site=ehost-live. 3 Nov. 2018.

“What Is Alzheimer's?” Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia, alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-

is-alzheimers. 5 Nov. 2018.

Zirin, Dave. “Neocon Football Fans.” Progressive, vol. 77, no. 10, Oct. 2013, p. 42. EBSCOhost,

search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aqh&AN=90656345&site=ehost-live.

3 Nov. 2018.