In a Wall St. Journal article entitled "Football Nanny State," the author outlines the growing debate about the safety of football for kids, which has accelerated after Junior Seau and other stories. A growing chorus of football parents and even players say that they would now hesitate to allow their children to play football given the risks of traumatic head injuries. The only problem with this growing opinion is that it, according to the author, is not based upon any evidence--yet:
"Recent studies performed on former longtime NFL players have left no doubt that playing professional football can be hazardous to one's brain—and one's future quality of life. But when it comes to the question of whether the sport is dangerous for kids, it's not that the evidence is inconclusive—there's no evidence whatsoever.
The Mayo Clinic has performed two studies on football and kids. In 2002, after examining 915 football players from elementary and middle schools, it concluded: "the risk of injury in youth football does not appear greater than other recreational or competitive sports." Last year, the Mayo Clinic studied 438 men who played high-school football between 1946 and 1956, when headgear was less advanced. That study found no increased risk of dementia, Parkinson's disease or Lou Gehrig's disease among these players compared with their non-football-playing male classmates."
I quoted this small portion since the Jiournal is subscription only and some may not have access. To be clear, I'm not taking a position on this issue--every parent should be able to decide for themselves if the risks outweigh the benefit for their kids. And more studies to come may provide evidence for that. But I do believe that the push for legislation to actually prevent kids from playing is misguided for kids, and that for adults, the decision should be entirely up to them.