Is Football Too Violent? Should You Let Your Kids Play?

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Interviewer: You mentioned little kids. I have a son that's in football. In his first year. Coaches are now taught to recognize certain things. At that level what are things that people should look for? Symptoms of, basically at any age but, the parents want to keep an eye on their kids that are playing sports. 

Dr. Maroon: I think you brought up a very good point. The human cry about safety and football in particular now is louder than it's ever been actually. It was louder back in 1905 when President Roosevelt was urged to ban football. It was so dangerous. That's when the NCAA was formed. Rules and regulations and referees and equipment began. But we're running into the same kind of criticism.

Actually the sport now has never been safer. When you were referring to your experience back in the 80s or 90s, clearly from there to where we are now it's been a major cultural shift in the understanding of concussions and also the management. What you were  alluding to, the coaches now because of the catastrophic injury to the young man by the name of Lystat in Washington State a few years ago who went back before he should have and had a catastrophic brain injury. His parents have pioneered this, they have regulations now I think in 40, 45 states where coaches must be certified to have taken a online test to show that they know what a concussion is, how to manage concussions.

In the youth football we know that the greatest number of concussions occur in games not so much in practice. So, proper blocking and tackling techniques, reducing contact in practice and the steps that the NFL has done in terms of kickoffs, all of these sort of things have been measures taken to reduce the numbers of impact.
Interviewer: Talk about symptoms a little more. What can parents look for in their kids?

Dr. Maroon: Headache is the most common. Lethargy, fatigue. "I just don't feel right." That's a very common one that should not be overlooked. Where the young child or athlete, "I just don't feel good. My head hurts. I have a little blurred vision." These are very very important symptoms that need to be addressed and be concerned about. Somebody perfectly without those symptoms.
Is football becoming too dangerous? Concussions have been in the news quite a bit from the frequency of injuries to lawsuits over brain damage. Dr. Joseph Maroon is the chief neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers, here he discusses the safety of the game and some important symptoms to look for.

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