There have been many studies, and countless stories regarding the danger concussions have upon victims. Football and youth football have been particular targets for raising awareness among players and parents. Nevertheless, a new public service announcement in Massachusetts is making national news.
The spot shows kids playing football until one is thrown to the ground. Then the music turns ominous, and the coach starts passing cigarettes out to his young players. The voiceover features a young voice stating: “Tackle football is like smoking. The younger I start, the longer I’m exposed to danger.”
This is part of a Tackle Can Wait campaign by the Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF). The goal is to steer youths under the age of 14 toward non-contact flag football. CLF claims that children who play contact football at age five are ten times more likely to develop degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) than those kids who wait until they are 14 years old.
Critics may complain the analogy is over the top, but CLF stands by its data, claiming that CTE develops in young players in much the same way cancer would if they were smoking cigarettes. Parents are increasingly aware of the dangers of concussions and head trauma, but states are also getting involved – New York is just one of several states that are looking at banning contact football for kids under the age of 12.
Creators come from a football background
Instead of scientists and filmmakers who are intent on lecturing audiences on the harms of football, the creator and director both have fathers who played college and professional football who contracted advanced forms of CTE later in life. Many others with fathers who contracted CTE also donated their time to make this spot a reality. Chris Borland, who played one season with the San Francisco 49ers, appeared in the spot as the referee. Borland retired from football at age 24 after two diagnosed concussions.
Parents may need to take action
Many former players and their families have stepped forward to announce that the former players also suffered brain injuries from playing football. While the NFL strives to make the game safer for professionals, youth football organizations may not be as cautious. Parents whose children suffered concussions or other head injuries while playing football or organized sports may need to address this issue, particularly if coaches or staff do not take all the appropriate steps to ensure the safety of the children.