It wasn’t so long ago that kids in America played football with little resistance or discouragement from their parents, but that mindset may be changing right before our very eyes as increasingly more stories of football related injuries (including head injuries) begin to surface. In fact, the NFL recently settled a $765 million dollar lawsuit with former players suffering from football-related concussions, lending even more evidence that football can be a very violent sport that leads to long-term, permanent, life-changing injuries.
As increasingly more former players tell their personal stories relating to cognitive deficiencies (as well as other football-related injuries), there seems to be a concurrent paradigm shift in America developing where more parents are beginning to steer their kids away from playing youth football. Whether football has become more dangerous over time (or is more dangerous today compared to other sports) is certainly debatable, but public opinion doesn’t always develop from research study findings. Instead, most people are persuaded by hearsay, gossip, and sensational news stories — and lets be honest, about the only off-field stories we hear about football these days are head injuries and concussions.
Elite-level football players bigger, faster, and stronger than ever before, but equipment has also improved over the years at about the same rate. Proponents of football would also argue that many new rules have been implemented to promote safer play, especially as this applies to blindside and above the shoulder hits. Still, the news that most people hear about are the stories showcasing former athletes who can no longer talk or walk, or those who have battled substance abuse – or even become suicidal.
This is an interesting time as it applies to youth football in America today. No longer are parents haphazardly signing their kids up for football, and increasingly more parents seem to be closely scrutinizing the decision when they do allow their kids to play football. Will the next generation of would-be football playing kids be steered away from playing football because of the inherent dangers that are a part of the game, or will this current heightened awareness of the dangers of football eventually subside? All this remains to be seen in the coming years, but for now we are definitely seeing a very different view of one of America’s most favorite sports.