Last week, students debated whether or not playing high impact sports is worth the risk, particularly for younger athletes in our #DoNowConcussion post. We asked students, Should young people be allowed to play heavy contact sports now that we know they can cause permanent brain damage? Should there be new education, equipment or rule changes to help prevent concussions in football?

In recent years, more than 4,500 former professional football players filed suit against the NFL based on allegations of fraud over how the league dealt with concussions. Last year, the NFL paid the players $765 million.

Research shows that repeated impact to the head causes chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease that can cause dementia, memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression. Often times, symptoms do not appear until years after the injury. The rise of CTE in younger athletes has sparked discussion on whether or not young athletes should play high impact sports like football, or if these injuries are a part of the game.

Throughout the week, students discussed how sports teach kids lessons, while others focused on the dangers of sports. The majority of students, however, agreed that young athletes should be allowed to play, under the stipulation that they are aware of the dangers and are given safer equipment.

Football is Not Worth the Risk

Many students argued that the risk of concussion, among other injuries, is not worth playing.

Let Us Play

Several students commented on how kids have the free will to choose what sports to play.

There Should be More Parent Involvement

Other students discussed the need for parents to make the decision to let their children play or not.

Education and More Awareness

Several students pointed to the need for parents, coaches and players to be aware of how to play safely.

Injury is Part of the Game

Others commented on how risks are a part of playing high impact sports.

We Need Safer Equipment

Many focused solely on creating safer equipment and new tactics in the game.

There Should be an Age Requirement

Several students discussed creating an age limit for players to play high impact sports.

Sports Teach Important Lessons

Many acknowledged the importance of teaching youth perseverance and how to get along with others.

Let Us Play but Inform Us of the Risk

Majority of students argued that kids can play, as long as they are aware of the risks.

Also explore the latest PBS Newshour’s Student Reporting Labs, a program where students investigate topics and produce journalistic videos, where students focused on concussions in youth football programs. Here’s a Tweet from PBS NewsHour Extra, that embeds one of the videos:

In addition to the responses on Twitter, we received over 400 insightful comments in reaction to the #DoNowConcussion post. Check out Henry Zhu’s thoughtful response that many students replied to during the week. The comment focused on the dangers of how sports media portrays football in society. You can see the comment here:

Henry Zhu's comment


Laura Robledo

Laura Robledo studied English at UC Berkeley. When she is not reading, looking up new music, or running half marathons, she loves to explore the beautiful city of San Francisco.

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