The discussion of whether football should become a banned sport in high school or not has become a national argument over the last few years. Researchers have estimated there are more than 500,000 injuries of some sort to high school football players nationwide every year. In 2015, twenty-eight percent of the football injuries were to a players’ head or face. However, in most years, less than 10 percent of those injuries required surgery. There are over one million high school athletes who play football each year, but a very small number of cases of CTE have ever been discovered, especially at the high school level of football. There are clearly other factors involved. Dr. David Geier is an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist in Charleston, South Carolina. He believes that football should not be banned in high school. In his article, Why We Should– and Why We Shouldn’t – Eliminate High School Football, he discusses factors like medical records, valuable lessons football teaches kids, and the opportunity football can give kids. There needs to be a definitive link between football and brain damage before drastic changes, like banning the sport all together, are made.
Playing team sports is an important part of the process of socialization and learning how to work together to achieve a goal, not to mention a way to stay fit and healthy. In his article, Dr. Geier explains why football is not as dangerous as it is made out to be. He says, There are over 1 million high school athletes who play football each year, but a very small number of cases of CTE have ever been discovered, especially at that level, (Geier). Meaning, only a few students get hurt. The first reason not to support such a ban is that children and teenagers are biologically more impulsive, less restrained and more inclined to take risks. Football is on the riskier end of the spectrum of sports, but still is less risky than skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, or bicycling. If we are going to legislate all risk-taking behaviors in children, we should probably begin with those that are statistically most dangerous, rather than in the middle.
The second reason not to eliminate tackle football is that it is not entirely clear that elimination of risk-taking behaviors from childhood is in the interest of our society. When playing football, children learn to assess risk based not only on their own capabilities, but also on the capabilities of their teammates who protect them and work for their mutual interests. This thought process for rapid risk assessment and plan execution, relying on teamwork and assessment of challenges may serve children and teenagers well in their later professional lives. Without childhood risk, there might not be adult risk-taking behaviors–no astronauts, explorers, entrepreneurs, fire rescue personnel, or surgeons, for example. The sport provides much needed exercise. Dr. Geier believes that football is a rigorous activity that helps children and teenagers exercise their muscles and cardiac strength. He says, We should not discourage kids from physical activity when one-third of children and adolescents in this country are overweight or obese, (Geier). High school football teaches young men leadership, discipline, and teamwork that they won’t get elsewhere. He explains, It’s a great way for them to channel their natural aggression into a more acceptable activity, (Geier). Football offers kids from difficult economic and social situations a way out. It keeps them out of trouble, helps them get a degree, and offers a shot at college they might not otherwise have. If you take football out of the schools, they might not be able to play at all. Many known college and NFL players have said football was their ticket out of the streets, and a way for them to stay off drugs, or get involved in gang activity.
The third reason to not ban high school football is because there is not enough evidence that suggests football is a life-threating sport. In the article Doctors Debate If High School Football Should Be Banned Due to Concussion Risks, written by Dr. Gillian Mohney, gives accurate percentages of injuries that were football related in the year of 2016.
More than 90 percent of the youth players (approximately 1,900 players) did not suffer an injury that restricted participation in the year of 2016. Fewer than 10 percent of players had an injury. 64 percent were minor where those athletes returned to play the same day. Football players were found to be injured in games more than practices, meaning the injuries come from activity that is not a daily activity, (Mohney).
This evidence shows that football is not as a hazardous to young children as it is said to be.
Nothing in athletics is perfectly safe, and concussions can be caused by contact, the court, or by being hit by a ball. Sports are undoubtedly great for improving physical health, but kids can lose weight and stay in shape playing other sports, without hitting their head, being slammed, or tackled daily. A toll of concussions takes on a child’s ability to learn such as headaches, blurry vision, dizziness, and depression. Those are tough on anyone especially on a 15-year-old student. Concussions affect high school athletes more and for longer periods of time than older players. And football is the number one sport for concussions by far. Football is not the only sport that can teach leadership, discipline and teamwork. Neurologists Dr. Bennet Omalu and Dr. Larry Robinson are against children playing tackle football because of the risks of concussions. They call for, children to be prevented from playing football until they reach 18, to avoid an excessive amount of brain trauma, (Omalu and Robinson).
Nothing in athletics is perfectly safe however, steps like extra padding on shoulder gear, and double sturdy head helmets are being taken to protect teenagers from the risks of football. Targeting rules, tackling education, moving kickoffs, and adopting noncontact practices are just a few examples of how officials are making the sport safer. Officials at every level of football continue to study and implement ways to protect the players. Experts like Dr. Cantu cannot even give empirical evidence to suggest what an exact age limit should be. Many students choose to participate in football to channel their anger and aggression into a more acceptable activity. Football offers kids from difficult economic and social situations a way out. It keeps them out of trouble, helps them get a degree, and offers a shot at college they might not otherwise have. If you take football out of the schools, they might not be able to play at all.
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