A new poll conducted by the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion in partnership with The Washington Post says that 53 percent of Americans think tackle football is too unsafe for young children to play. These respondents said that it isn’t safe for kids to play football before high school (although 57 percent of those surveyed said tackle football is safe for high schoolers).
American football is a sport with a growing health problem, as more and more research clearly states that it is directly linked to CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). CTE was found posthumously in 99 percent of 111 football players’ brains, according to a study cited by UMass Lowell’s. Some cases have linked CTE to depression and even suicide.
CTE is believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head, blows that are easy to receive while playing football. A degenerative brain disease, CTE can even be found in athletes after just a few years of playing the sport, despite them never playing after high school.
These facts should make it clear that tackle football isn’t safe for adults to play, much less children with developing brains, and Americans are slowly coming around to this fact. 83 percent of the 1,000 Americans polled by UMass Lowell believe that football causes brain injuries, but 44 percent of those stated that they still think it is safe for children 13 or younger to play tackle football.
Men, somewhat predictably, were more likely than women to say that football is a safe sport for young children. Younger respondents (aged 18-29) and educated respondents (with a college or graduate degree) were also much less likely to say football was safe for children.