Debate: Should Football Be Banned?

Brian Garfinkel/AP Photo

High school football players suffer more injuries than other athletes in that age range. Is it too dangerous?

Football players suffer more concussions than athletes in any other high school sport. Is this beloved game worth the risks—or should schools do away with it?

 YES:  Football is a potentially fatal health hazard.

Football is a brutal sport that can have lifelong consequences! When your brain is bashed against your skull, it never fully recovers. In fact, scientists are learning that repeated concussions may lead to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and memory loss. We don’t let teens ruin their lungs with cigarette smoke—so why would we allow them to damage their brains in the name of football?

Recently, Chris Borland, a promising young San Francisco 49ers player, quit the pros after just one year, citing the risk to his health. That’s a strong statement

And just look at all the domestic violence cases in the NFL—clearly brain damage isn’t the only problem! Football promotes a culture of violence that rewards aggressive behavior. This culture needs to be stopped.

—Vikram Chandramouli, a seventh-grade student from Illinois

 NO:  Banning football will not solve the problem.

I’ve seen field hockey teammates get hit in the face with balls and struck in the head with sticks, so I know firsthand: Concussions do not discriminate among sports! Why take away one of the most popular pastimes, then? At many schools, football is the hub of student life. Without it, there would be no school spirit.

I firmly believe that banning football will not solve the concussion problem. Bringing awareness to this issue—so that coaches and players understand how to prevent injuries and administer proper treatment if they occur—just might.

Sports safety needs to be taught at the beginning of each season, so students understand the risks of playing with symptoms of a brain injury. And that goes for all teams, not just football.

—Amanda Vigdor, a high school senior from New Jersey

3 Fast Facts

1. With 1.1 million participants, football is the nation’s most popular sport for high school boys. Track and field is a distant second, with just 580,000 athletes.

2. The danger isn’t limited to games. Fifty-eight percent of concussions in high school and college football players happened during practice.

3. High school football players can undergo significant brain changes after just one season—even if they don’t get a concussion.

SOURCES: 1. National Federation of State High School Associations; 2. May 2015 JAMA Pediatrics study; 3. Wake Forest University research

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