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posted: 12/10/2013 4:40 AM

No need to separate kids from football

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No need to separate kids from football

On Oct, 8, Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada published a book titled "League of Denial," in which they discuss a history of brain injuries in the National Football League. Head injuries in the NFL have been a hot topic for decades, but recently, parents are beginning to restrict their kids from playing football due to long-term health risks.

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However, in the month following the release of this book and subsequent documentary, the parental backlash against football has grown exponentially. According to the Fainaru brothers' follow-up article on ESPN.com, Pop Warner Football, the nation's largest youth football program, "saw participation drop 9.5 percent between 2010-2012," a loss of more than 23,000 players in a two-year span.

This is the wrong approach to this problem. Kids shouldn't be denied the option to play football; it's too valuable of an experience. According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association's website, only 6.4 percent of high school football players go on to play in college. Furthermore, 1.6 percent of those college football players go on to play professionally, resulting in an astounding 0.08 percent of high school football players who eventually go on to play in the NFL. Suffice it to say, less than 1 percent of a sport's population should not determine the future of a sport.

The game of football is not the problem. The problem is that NFL players are too fast and physical with the equipment that they are currently wearing to be safe. The problem is that youth and high school football players do not have the proper resources or are taught the proper technique in order to reduce the risk of injury. The solution is not to take kids out of football; rather, the game needs to evolve in the same way that its athletes have.

Daniel Rustemeyer

Glen Ellyn

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