Brain Injury Research And Youth Football Participation
The attention paid to professional football players and the prevalence of brain injuries could be having a trickle-down impact on youth football. Pop Warner and USA Football have both acknowledged a drop in participation levels over the past three years. While it is not clear that concerns over concussions and other brain injuries are behind the drop, many observers consider it a primary reason. Pop Warner's chief medical officer suggested that the failure to properly address concerns over head trauma in youth football is the cause of the dropping popularity.
Pop Warner football reached a record high in participation in 2010. Since then, participation levels have dropped by 9.5 percent. USA Football tracked a 6.7 percent decline among players between 6 and 14 years of age from 2010 to 2011. Both groups suggested that the economy and a decrease in young people playing multiple sports were to blame for the declining numbers.
Many brain injuries are the result of car accidents or slip and falls. The victims in those cases often had no chance to avoid the danger that led to their injuries. In the case of youth football and other sports where the chance of concussions is relatively high, kids and their parents do have a choice. Many appear to be choosing to reduce the risk by not playing contact sports. Youth football organizations may be forced to take stronger measures to reduce the risk to young people if they want to maintain the popularity of the sport.
Source: Yahoo! Sports, " Report: NFL head injuries have led to drastic youth football participation decline," by Anwar S. Richardson, 14 November 2013