By Ken Reed
The number of boys playing tackle football at the youth and high school levels continues a gradual decline. But the latest football participation stats revealed an interesting trend: the number of girls playing tackle football at the high school level is actually on the rise.
In fact, the number of girls playing high school football this year was 1,964, more than double the number of participants from seven years ago.
One theory as to why this is happening is that society’s acceptance of girls playing traditionally boys sports is growing faster than the rise in safety concerns about playing high school football.
A quick caveat about the latest girls football stats: It is believed that a significant percentage of girls playing high school football are kickers, and thus, not exposed to brain trauma to the degree those who play other positions in football are.
That said, there is a movement to get more girls playing tackle football at all positions on the field. For example, an organization called Utah Girls Tackle Football had approximately 400 girls participating this year.
This trend has doctors and medical researchers worried. Studies have shown that in sports with similar rules for girls and boys, the rate of concussions is higher in the females. In general, studies show female athletes sustain more concussions than their male counterparts, report more severe symptoms and have a longer duration of recovery than male athletes.
“Why bring girls into it? We should be taking the boys out of it,” said Dr. Robert Stern, director of clinical research for Boston University’s C.T.E. Center, which studies the degenerative brain disease caused by repeated blows to the head.
“It doesn’t make sense to expose our children to repetitive head impacts during periods of incredible maturation of the most important organ in our body, the brain.”
Why? It’s an important question to ask.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a long-time member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
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Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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