Website Manager

Home of NFL Flag Youth Football- Lakewood (Fall) and San Pedro (Spring), CA

Why play flag football?

Parents weigh risks of youth football amid concussion debate

By Gary Mihoces, USA TODAY

Updated 5/23/2012 3:11 PM

 

The chorus of concussion concerns is growing with big names in the lead. Former NFLquarterback Kurt Warner has labeled the notion of his two school-age sons playing football a "scary thing" and says he'd prefer they didn't. Now, the father of three-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady is expressing reservations about how he'd handle it if his son were just starting out.

Meanwhile, registration is underway for the coming season of youth football across the USA. Parents face the question: Do you let your kids play? More than 2,000 former players are suing the NFL alleging they weren't warned about long-term risks of concussions. The NFL has cracked down on bounties — cash for knocking out foes. And Junior Seau's death has raised questions about whether he suffered from years of head hits.

Tom Brady Sr. told Yahoo Sports he'd be "very hesitant" these days in deciding if hisson would play. "This head thing is frightening for little kids," Brady Sr. said.Tom Brady Sr., who held his son out of football until hewas 14, told Yahoo Sports he'd be "very hesitant" these days in deciding if his son would play. "This head

Tom Brady Sr. told Yahoo Sports he'd be "very hesitant" these days in deciding if his son would play. "This head thing is frightening for little kids,"

thing is frightening for little kids," Brady Sr. said. "I think Kurt Warner is 100% correct.  He's there to protect his children, and these other people who are weighing in are not addressing the issue of whether it's safe or not for kids."

Contacted Tuesday by USA TODAY Sports, the father said, "I subscribe to kids playing football, but I don't really subscribe to them playing until they are developed. "When (Tom Jr.) made the decision he wanted to play football, he was 14 and his mother and I were on board with it. We still would be on board with it. I don't know that we would have been on board with it when he was 7."

 
Many are addressing the issue, from current and former NFL players to youth and high school coaches to parents who sign — or don't sign — permission for their kids to put on helmets. "He's been playing flag football. I won't put him in regular football," said Libby Cassat of Annapolis, Md., of son Kit, 9. "You pull the flag. You get the same stuff." 
 

"He's been playing flag football. I won't put him in regular football," said Libby Cassat of Annapolis, Md., of son Kit, 9. "You pull the flag. You get the same stuff."

Chicago neurosurgeon Julian Bailes, chairman of the board at Boston's Sports Legacy Institute has studied brains of deceased former NFL players who suffered from conditions such as depression and dementia. In players such asMike Webster,Justin Strzelczyk,Terry LongandAndre Waters, he has found a condition known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Researchers atBoston Universityhave made similar findings inDave Duerson, who committed suicide last year, and others.

The Centers for Disease Control analyzed data from 2001 to 2009 of brain injuries that resulted in emergency room visits for players 19 and younger involved in sports and recreation.
Football-related causes ranked second; bicycling was tops. "Unfortunately, football is kind of the flash point in this whole issue," said Jon Butler, executive director of Pop Warner.
 
In his wallet, former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski has a trading card of Zackery Lystedt. "This is the young man, I believe, has changed the way the game is played," Jaworski said. "We have to make the game safer." In 2006 in Maple Valley, Wash., Lystedt suffered a concussion as a 13-year-old in a middle school game. He returned to the game and collapsed. He survived after surgery but suffered brain damage. At his high school graduation last year, he was able to walk a few steps to receive his diploma.