Why we should ban tackle football

August 24, 2020

ban-footballThis is another post written BC–Before Covid. But with so much time on our hands, why not talk about something other than our situation. And of course, it’s unlikely we’ll have football at all this year. So a perfect time to rethink it.

Few things are as American as football. Fans are fanatic about their teams. Tens of millions of dollars of ads support the support. It’s competitive. It’s masculine. It’s aggressive. It’s macho. It’s violent. It’s vicious. 

Those are very good reasons to ban tackle football.

I can hear fans now, going crazy about that idea.

But don’t worry. Football will never be banned. The NFL and fans don’t care that much about the health of the players.

If they did? The game would be banned. Or made significantly less aggressive. Because the brains of concussed players (and many are) are being irreparably damaged.
ban-footballIt was 2005 when a pathologist first identified what’s now called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) . It’s a degenerative brain disease in which brain cells are slowly killed off. It’s found in those who have experienced repetitive brain trauma. Athletes suffer this brain damage disproportionately.

Kids as young as 17 have had this diagnosis, but usually, symptoms do not  begin appearing until years after head impacts begin. Changes in mood, behavior and cognitive function are seen.  As the disease progresses, victims can have problems with thinking and memory. Eventually, some suffer progressive dementia.   

Earlier this year the NYTimes reported that a 21-year-old college football player suffering similar symptoms took his life after looking up CTE…and autopsy findings confirmed that his brain had the telltale plaques of the disease. He’d been playing tackle football for 11 consecutive years.  Eleven.

Why is this acceptable? 

American football is far too violent and dangerous. It should be banned.

Yes, I’ve heard all the arguments that these men are adults, it’s their choice. There are many reasons why this argument is problematic (mostly centered around money and our materialistic culture.)

But players are just pawns.

The real responsibility for these athletes being at such risk belongs to team owners and fans. The infrastructure that cares more about the game than about the players. 

A few years ago I was discussing this with a friend who played arena football in his youth.  

“Would you allow your teenage son to play football?” I asked.

“I do allow him,” he said. “There is no reason not to.”

No reason not to.

Wow.  Just wow.

I think we should ban tackle football immediately. What are your thoughts about this?

8 comments on “Why we should ban tackle football
  1. Laurie Stone says:

    I can’t stand even the sound of football, but so many people love it, including my brother and oldest son. I also worry about young boys and the impact on their brain.

  2. I was so glad my son choose to play baseball instead. I have a friend who was NFL and Superbowl during the 60s before there were decent helmets. It took a toll on so many players and they are having a hard time with medical issues now.

  3. Linda Hobden says:

    There are many sports in the world that are just as dangerous as American Football. I think rugby is a lot more dangerous- the men are larger, they do similar moves as American Football but without the armour that American footballers wear. Heading footballs in football (soccer) can also lead to brain damage – no helmets are worn – and yet children play the sports (both rugby & football) from the ages of 5 upwards in the UK. No, I don’t think the sports should be banned but I do think there should be a greater understanding of what can happen.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Football is not the only sport with this problem. Soccer has this problem, but you don’t hear about it as much because it probably affects girls more than boys. Heading the ball is banned for children younger than 11 but when they’re playing around 80 games per year on travel teams, that increases their opportunity for concussions over football players who play 10-20 games per year.

  5. I think there should be more research into all contact sport. It’s not just about the impact caused from say tackles or heading it’s also the other injuries. I don’t think sports like this should be banned but perhaps played differently so there’s less likelihood of long term damage and suffering.

  6. I see tackle football going back to its rugby roots. Unfortunately, change is hard. This is not helped by the most unfortunate fact that most of football is run by dinosaurs, who are averse to change. The go-to solution is always the one with the least amount of change, which is the latest and most expensive in concussion helmets. The problem with that is the brain still bounces inside the helmet, no matter the helmet the player chooses to wear. It’s simple physics.

    You would think the more logical answer would be just taking the head out of the game. That would probably mean going back to the headgear and wraparound tackles only (so no devastating hits above the waist), but anyone would have to hire a sports innovator to find out.

    Another problem to note, with wearing helmets, is they shouldn’t protect so well that a player doesn’t feel anything if he leads with his head. If a player leads with his head the hit should hurt him as much as the opposing player!

  7. I don’t strongly support tackle football. I know that it greatly impacts our young athletes brain, but I don’t think tackle football should be banned as an appropriate solution, but I think there should be a greater understanding of what can happen.

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