Series: Legislation Banning Youth Tackle Football

Courtney Way

Two children practice football.

Popular television show, "Friday Night Tykes," was a reality show that dives in the intense world of youth football. Among the challenges the players (as young as 8 years old) face are extreme training drills, heckling from fans, and balancing on-the-field expectations with living a typical childhood away from the gridiron.

Graduate Student Project

Introduction

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy ("CTE") is a degenerative disease that is theoretically linked to repeat mild traumatic brain injuries ("TBI"). In recent years, football has been front and center of the discussion, as many former players such as Aaron Hernandez, have been diagnosed with CTE posthumously. 

In light of this, state lawmakers have begun proposing bans on youth tackle football, citing that the longer a player engages in tackle football, the more likely they are to develop CTE. This 4-part series is a deep dive into the issue, providing a foundation about traumatic brain injury and CTE, its effects on adults and children, notable cases and research findings regarding football players diagnosed with CTE, and the positions on the ban of youth tackle football.

Research supporting these conclusions include insight from Dr. John Leddy, medical director of UB's Concussion Management Clinic, and Dr. Barry Willer, professor of psychology, department of psychiatry, neurosciences, and rehabilitation sciences, and director of research for UB's Concussion Research Center. The series concludes with a novel conclusion: Blame the treatment, not the tackle. Simply, the risk of brain degeneration due to improper treatment is far greater than the risk of injury from the hit itself.

Abstract

4-PART SERIES ON SPORTS CONCUSSIONS CLARIFYING THE ISSUES OF TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES

This series is a deep-dive into the issue, providing a foundation about traumatic brain injury and CTE, its effects on adults and children, notable cases and research findings regarding football players diagnosed with CTE, and the positions on the ban of youth tackle football. The series concludes with a novel conclusion: blame the treatment, not the tackle. As the saying goes, "there isn't smoke without fire." Recently, with the prevalence of CTE in the news, popular culture, and the like, many began thinking "there isn't CTE without the tackle." This couldn't be more off base. We really should be thinking of it as "there isn't CTE without improper treatment." Simply, brain degeneration resulting from successive hits results from improper protocol and procedure, not the hit itself.

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