By Ken Reed

I’m on record as saying that high school football will be history ten years from now.

The reasons?

For one, there will be a growing backlash against school-sponsored football from mad mothers (and fathers). It will be kind of a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) phenomenon. Parents won’t want their children’s brain health put at risk unnecessarily and they’ll let school board members and administrators know it.

But that won’t be what ultimately kills high school football. What’s going to get high school football is the insurance companies jacking up their premiums for high school football due to a major brain trauma lawsuit or two — or three. It’s basically going to become way too expensive for the average school district to continue sponsoring an activity that a growing mound of research shows is extremely dangerous to the human brain. After all, the purpose of high school is to enhance the brain, not endanger it.

High school-aged football won’t die, however. It will just move from high schools to private clubs. There will always be fathers (and mothers) who believe the positives of football outweigh the negatives for their sons. But what I don’t understand is the reason I hear most often as to why parents keep their sons in organized tackle football. They say the game teaches valuable life lessons and learning those lessons is worth the injury risk, including brain injuries.

While doing a Google search recently, I came across a Yahoo! Sports column by Carl West and he perfectly captured the popular argument for football in schools — in this case college football, “Defenders of college football argue that despite its violent nature the game can be used to teach life lessons. It promotes leadership skills, team work, critical thinking, and physical fitness.”

I have no doubt that football can deliver those benefits in some — if not most — cases.

My question would be, why do you have to get your head bashed in to learn those lessons? There are plenty of other sports that can deliver those goods … and they’re a lot safer for the brain.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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