By Ron Powell
As the debate continues about the future of the NFL because of the long-term health effects, there is a growing interest in the role of politics and the need for legislation surrounding youth football. There are now over 4,000 former NFL players participating in a class action law suit charging that the NFL was aware of the dangers of concussions and chose not to share that information with their players. There is also recent scientific evidence that CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) has affected former high school and college football players. So the question that must be analyzed is; can the brain trauma caused when children, ages 5-14, play Pop Warner football also lead to CTE? If so, should those children be allowed to play contact football?
There currently exist many former NFL players who acknowledge, and feel the physical and neurological effects that the game has had on their quality of life. Yet, many will readily admit that they would still choose to play football if they had the information about CTE that is well documented today. Research conducted at Boston University demonstrates that such trauma to the brain negatively effects student’s memory and their ability to learn. Some of these former players still have no qualms about their children playing contact football. Others however, are just as sure that they would never allow their children to play.
Freedom is an inevitable right provided by the constitution, which also includes the right to individual expression. However, according to some parents that includes the right to allow their children to play contact football. Some have gone so far as to state that it is their “choice to damage their children’s brain, or allow them to smoke”. Really? Should “all” parents have the right to do with their children what they want…or just the “reasonable” people of our society?”
Since that must include “all” parents, as our laws supporting “equal rights” would require, that would also include those who want the individual right to force, or allow their children to participate in any perverted or dangerous activity. As a result, some governing body needs to draw the line and set the rules–establish the law–and that certainly can’t be the role for individual parents, as is clearly established above. This is one of the important roles government plays in our society. They create laws to protect us from evil, criminal, and unreasonable persons. Otherwise, the deviant and irrational parents in our communities would subject their children to the worst elements of life, and be able to do so without impediment or consequence.
The insensibility of some parents can be seen in the suggestion of those who believe they should have the right or choice to risk “damage to their child’s brain”. While most don’t mean to suggest that this would include repeatedly slamming a child’s head against the wall, there are parents willing to allow their young children to be subjected to the same type of brain trauma caused by football.
Legislation is the only way to protect young children who are too inexperienced to understand the consequences of repeated head trauma that is caused by playing contact football. At some point, perhaps high school, children should have the wherewithal to make an informed decision for themselves. However, no reasonable person can expect a 5 year-old to make such a decision based on a reasonable comprehension of the facts.
As wise and sensible as some may be in some areas of life, it’s obvious that many parents have been deceived by the power, the influence, and the “spell” that the love of football has on the thinking ability of otherwise reasonable persons. If this were not the case, they would not be willing to sacrifice their children’s future to what some consider “the gods of football”–the overseers of America’s game.
The case can now be made regarding the necessity to politicize this issue. There now exist many proud, loud, and determined parents who are willing to subject their children’s mental health to play this dangerous sport of football–and in many cases for their own personal satisfaction. They are willing to encourage their children to play despite the overwhelming scientific facts and strong circumstantial evidence that it causes brain damage.
This is exactly why Youth Football needs to be legislated!