Is high school football worth the risk?
- High school football programs should be discontinued because protecting students from brain injury should take precedence over sports, Mark A. Serva, an educational consultant and associate professor at the University of Delaware, suggests in a piece for District Administration.
- A recent study conducted by Boston University revealed that one in five high school football players suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition that diminishes brain capacity and is associated with high risks of memory loss, behavioral issues and depression.
- The main cause of death from mild CTE is suicide and students who begin football before age 12 are at even higher risk of CTE effects.
High school football is the pride of many high schools and communities and supporters often tout its benefits. High schools often build a brand around the team and other school activities, such as cheerleading and band are part of football's big draw. The games are also often one of the biggest sources of donation income for a school.
However, because research indicates the sport is eroding the minds and damaging the brains of so many who play it, schools are seeing an increased number of football-related deaths and lawsuits. For the survivors, grades, behavior and mental health can still suffer consequently. The ethical implications of the program are growing as more information about the effects of football are known.
It may be time for schools—and communities-- to take a hard look at their football programs and decide if the risks are worth it. If football dies, there are still other sporting options, such as soccer, that can fill the void. And schools may be able to divert football resources to building fitness centers with indoor tracks, weight rooms and aerobic studios, racquetball courts and even swimming pools that will serve more students and expand the message that physical fitness is important. These centers could also be used to benefit communities and residents could pay a small fee to use the facilities or purchase concessions from school clubs operating at the center to help recover lost revenues from football. If communities could get behind an idea like that, the loss of football may come as less of a blow.
- District Administration Should there be a moratorium on high school football?