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Concussions, Kids And Contact Sports


From the NFL to Pop Warner, we know the danger of concussions now. Should kids play football?

Football has a giant legacy in this country. Right now, young players are grabbing cleats and pads again to head onto the practice field. Marching bands, sweat, glory. Friday night lights. But people are also thinking twice. The brain trauma from concussions that has plagued the NFL can start early. My guest today Bennet Omalu, whose life was dramatized in the movie “Concussion” with Will Smith, says letting kids play football is child abuse. This hour On Point: Should you let your child play football? — Tom Ashbrook


Tom Farrey, executive director of the Sports and Society Program at the Aspen Institute. Former enterprise reporter for ESPN, focusing on youth sports. Author of, “Game On: The All-American Race to Make Champions of Our Children.” ( @TomFarrey)

Brenda Easter, mother of Zac Easter, a 24-year-old who committed suicide in 2015 after suffering with CTE for six years. Founder and CEO of CTE Hope.

Dr. Bennet Omalu, doctor who cast chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) into the spotlight in 2002 , and who is portrayed by Will Smith in the 2015 film, “Concussion.” Author of, “Truth Doesn’t Have a Side: My Alarming Discovery about the Danger of Contact Sports.” ( @bennetomalu9168)

Ernesto ‘Cuatro’ Groos, vice president of the Texas-based Hill Country Pop Warner Football and Cheer league, which is participating in the National Rookie Pilot Program aimed at implementing rules to make the game safer.

From Tom’s Reading List

Sports Illustrated: ‘Concussion’ Doctor: Letting Kids Play Football is ‘Definition of Child Abuse’ — “The doctor credited with discovering chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) likens children playing football to abuse and says there is nothing anyone can do to make the game safer. Dr. Bennet Omalu, whose life was dramatized in the movie “Concussion” starring Will Smith, says the recent study from Boston confirms what can happen with repeated blows to the head. The study published in the The Journal of the American Medical Association found that 110 of 111 former NFL players who had their brains donated for examination suffered from CTE.”

Chicago Tribune: Editorial: Football and CTE: The dilemma for parents — “Last year, 3 million kids ages 6 to 18 played organized football in the U.S. In Illinois in 2014, nearly 47,000 boys played high school football. McKee’s findings should give parents of youths playing football a reason to stop and think: Given what we know now about CTE, does tackle football still make sense for their kids?”

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: With concussions a ‘factor,’ Roethlisberger mulls career future — “Roethlisberger, 35, found the study “alarming” and said he will include it in his decision next offseason about whether to return for a 15th season. ‘Of course,’ Roethlisberger said. ‘I want to play catch with my kids. I want to know my kids’ names. As much as I want my kids to remember what I did and watch me play the game, I also want to remember them when I’m 70 years old.'”

Read An Excerpt From “Truth Doesn’t Have a Side”

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