Minnesota Doctors Recommend Removing Football From Public Schools
Dr. Steven Miles and Dr. Shailendra Prasad examined football-related concussions and are recommending that football be removed from the nation’s schools. Dr. Miles is a faculty member at the University of Minnesota's Center for Bioethics. Dr. Prasad is a Minneapolis-based family physician. Their advice appears in an article in the January issue of the American Journal of Bioethics - which is already posted online. In the article they write:
Public schools should end their football programs because of the high prevalence of concussions. Five to twenty percent of students experience at least one concussion in a season of play. Nine to twelve year old players experience an average of 240 head impacts per season; high school players average 650 head impacts per season. An initial football concussion increases the risk of a subsequent concussion three or four fold not simply for the balance of that season but for the following season as well. Catastrophic brain injuries, though rare, are far more common in high school and college players who have experienced a previous non-catastrophic concussion.
The brains of children are more susceptible to long-term damage from concussion than adults. Although the frequency of concussion in football is about the same as in hockey, fifty times as many students play football than hockey; football causes far more brain injuries. The brain is an irreplaceable organ, the health of which is foundational for the ability to learn, socialize and for fully realizing life’s physical and vocational opportunities.
The doctors acknowledge that completely banning kids from playing football is unrealistic, but they say the pressure of football at the school level makes young athletes feel like they need to go out for football. It's their belief that banning it from schools would eliminate that pressure.