On Friday’s Downtown, we had a thought-provoking discussion with Patrick Hruby of Vice Sports, who wrote a column last week on the subject of high school football. The focus of his story was a man named Russell Davis, who ran for the Las Vegas school board on a platform of eliminating high school football. As you can imagine, given the popularity and tradition of the sport, Davis was met with some strong opinions but as Hruby and others began to listen and look more closely at the data they began to see that it was at least a question worthy of more discussion.
Mr. Davis was not an anti-football guy but a passionate fan of the sport, who enjoyed taking his children to games, but he grew more concerned as the issue of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) gained traction in the media. While the impact of repeated blows to the head on professional players was better known, there is ample research on what that activity can do to college athletes and those in high school whose brains are still developing.
Davis doesn’t propose outlawing the game of football but he questions whether, in this time of dwindling school budgets, we should be spending money on an activity that is so potentially harmful. Look no further than Maine high schools, where concussion protocols limit the amount of type of schoolwork that students are asked to due after such an injury because of the immediate impact on cognition.
Both Mr. Davis and author Patrick Hruby realize that high school football isn’t going anywhere anytime soon but both suggest there are things we can do right now, like play fewer games and reduce contact in practices. The Ivy League began instituted a no-contact practice policy this year to protect those high-caliber brains and next door to us, the University of New Hampshire has the last few seasons held regular helmetless practices to help focus on proper tackling techniques. For those of us who love football and also value the health of young people, the time to have these discussions is now.
To hear the entire conversation, visit our website at: