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Survey: One-Third Of U.S. Parents Less Likely To Let Son Play Football Due To Head Injury Risk

Growing Awareness Of Concussions As Source Of Long-Term Injury Cited
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Youth football players (/file credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Youth football players (/file credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

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GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Youth football is taking a hit.

Concern over head injuries is making parents less likely to put their sons on the gridiron, according to a new poll.

Roughly 1 in 3 Americans say the connection between concussions suffered by playing football and long-term brain injury would make them less likely to let their son play, the HBO Real Sports/Marist poll finds.

“Historically, youth football has fueled the NFL,” according to Dr. Keith Strudler, Director of The Marist College Center for Sports Communication. “Parents’ concern about the safety of the game could jeopardize the future of the sport.”

CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan witnessed the concern firsthand on Wednesday as the middle school football team from Garden City boarded the bus for its away game.

Kristin Morris gave her 12-year-old son a last-minute safety reminder.

“We grew up on football, one of our favorite things to watch our son play, but a big concern is concussion,” Morris said.

Added parent Melissa Cascadden: “Every Sunday when he goes on the football field, I am nervous that he is going to get hit, a concussion.”

The risk of long-term brain injury due to youth football participation would be the deciding factor in whether or not to allow their son to play for 16 percent of parents, the poll finds.

In addition, 70 percent said they think the benefits of playing football outweigh the risk of injury, while 24 percent say the risk of injury is too high.

“It’s a dilemma. It is a tough decision for a parent to make. But the good news about the study is that it creates real public awareness,” said Liz Giordano of the Head Injury Association.

Even former NFL great Harry Carson, who won a Super Bowl with the Giants, said he’s concerned.

“Knowing what I know now, if I had to do it all over again, I would not, because it’s really not worth it,” Carson said.

Nancy Kalafus, the athletic director of the Garden City School District, said 2013 brings a whole new ballgame, thanks to modern reparation, prevention, and protection.

“Parents understand now the days of old — just go out there and play if you are injured — is not what we are doing anymore. The return-to-play protocol makes a student stay out,” Kalafus said.

“Football’s loss could be the inevitable gain of lacrosse, baseball, or even soccer,” Strudler added.

Despite the concern of some, 39 percent of Americans surveyed said reports of long-term injury as a result of concussions while playing football hasn’t changed how concerned they are about the game.

To read the complete poll results, click here.

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