Should I Let My Child Play Football?

In light of Damar Hamlin’s recent head injury, should you let your child play football? We’re diving into what the facts say here.

Did you know that Monday Night Football brings in almost 20 million viewers? That means millions of people watched the terrifying collapse of safety Damar Hamlin during the Bills vs Bengals game. In light of this recent injury and other serious concussions in the NFL this season, many people are questioning whether or not they should let their children play football. 

If you are wondering what the risks of football are, or want to learn more about concussions from football, keep reading. 

Risks of Football

Football has become one of America’s most popular sports events in youth programs. People love to play and watch the sport as it becomes more of a tradition in western culture. Despite its popularity, football is the leading cause of injury in youth sports. 

There are a lot of different risk factors involved commonly in the knee, ankle, and back. Most of these are mild strains, sprains, or contusions. Injuries in the neck and football head incidents are much less likely ranging from 5 to 13 percent, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

These risks may make you think about pulling your child from the team or preventing them from joining. Keep in mind that we take risks every day in acts that don’t always seem scary. Even when you drive in your car to go to the grocery store you risk getting into a car accident

Youth Football

It can be hard to decide if your child should play football because, despite the injuries, many added benefits come with it. On one hand, football can make kids happy and included, but there is a concern when it comes to long-term damage.

The sport offers opportunities for exercise, academic benefits, and improved social skills. It can make kids more well-rounded and give them the motivation they need to succeed in life. The past few years have shown improvement in equipment which is making football safer, but even helmets don’t help reduce concussions. 

Football Vs Driving Concussions

Researchers are studying the impact of football hits on human bodies. Studies show that even a single game of football can have a similar force to 62 car crashes. These studies use a mouthguard to track the brain’s reaction to physical hits. 

The accumulative damage that these blows deliver can produce symptoms of hard collisions, like immediate concussion. The average G-force of the hits recorded in these studies was incredibly similar to a car crashing into a wall at 30 miles per hour. 

This may seem alarming, however, the severe damage isn’t caused by huge blows but rather by repeated hits that can cause blunt-force trauma. Even with a helmet players face irreversible brain damage. Concussions from football put people at risk, but no more than other daily tasks. 

How To Keep Your Child Safe While Playing Football

There are several steps that you can take to make sure your child is on the field practicing and playing ball safely. First, you should insure that the team and league are using safety equipment and proper tackling techniques. Tackling leading with the shoulder and keeping the head up is the safest technique. 

Parents need to know the signs of concussions if they decide to let their kids play. They include but aren’t limited to mood swings, headaches, confusion, or sensitivity to lighting. People do not have to lose consciousness to be concussed. 

Here are a few more things to make sure your kids do to ensure they are as safe as possible: 

  • Keep fit during the off-season
  • Get a physical done before and after to identify potential injuries
  • Encourage warm-ups, cool-downs, and stretching always
  • Stay hydrated before practice
  • Eat a healthy balanced meal
  • Visit a counselor if you or your child think it is needed

What Age Should Your Child Play

When it comes to flag football children can play at very young ages. Tackle football is a tough question that each family has to address. Typically players who start before the age of 12 are more likely to have cognitive or behavioral issues. 

Some suggest having kids stick with flag football until high school so players will be able to learn the sport and experience the same rules, just without tackling. If you’ve watched the Damar Hamlin or Tua Tagovailoa hits and are still feeling concerned, don’t worry. Injuries are less severe in youth players than those in high school, college, and the NFL.

Whatever you decide for your family, keep in mind that you should take into consideration of the child’s development rather than their age. Some kids may have the strength and size to safely play tackle football at age 12, and others may not. It’s a good idea to have a conversation with their pediatrician or family doctor before you give your child the green light to join the team.  

Will You Let Your Child Play Football? 

It can be hard for parents to decide if their child should play football or not because keeping them safe, healthy, and fit is your top priority. Encouraging kids to play sports can help character build and raise children to have grit. It also gives more of a risk for them to get a serious injury that could affect them well into their adult life. 

With the information above, you should be able to start to make an informed decision in the best interests of your child. If you want more information, visit our website

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