New study: Large majority opposes tackle football for kids under 14

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There’s a reason the NFL and its owners have embarked on Operation Mom, to try to convince mothers the sport is safe for their kids.

And study just published underscores why they’re so worried.

A study of 1,000 people done by the Center for Public Opinion at the University of Massachusetts Lowell highlights what seems to be increasing concern about the safety of the game.

The numbers generated by the poll suggest that a majority of respondents find it reasonable to keep kids out of tackle football before high school, and shows a strong correlation between tackle football and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

In fact, 85 percent of respondents said it was either “certainly true” (31 percent) or “probably true” (54%) that there is a settled science that playing football can cause CTE.

Also of concern to the NFL should be the finding that 78 percent thought tackling should be introduced to kids at age 14 or later. Within that group, 36 percent thought it was appropriate for age 14 and up, 21 percent thought it appropriate at 18 or over, and 20 percent answered “never.”

And 94 percent of women responding to the survey thought it was inappropriate to play tackle football before age 10, and 84 percent opposed tackle football before age 14.

The study also showed that 72 percent of men and 74 percent of those identifying as sports fans opposed tackle football for children under 14.

And while 52 percent thought tackle football was safe for high school students, 16 percent thought that to be “certainly false” and 32 percent “probably false.”

The league has recognized this trend, and sponsors flag football leagues already. They’d probably be wise to try to grow that program, as more and more people are hesitant to let their children the full-contact version of the game.

64 responses to “New study: Large majority opposes tackle football for kids under 14

  1. bunch of freakin’ Nancies…America is getting soft and we need a leader who can make us tough again.. #Obama2016

  2. Kids are like rubber. Not a lot of mass or strength moving about under age 14. The “majority” of people are often clueless regarding matters for which they are polled -shocker. Damn I hate this time of the NFL news cycle.

  3. ….the NFL should sponsor flag football leagues……because at the rate the rule changes are happening in the NFL ,THEY will become a flag football league in 10 years………….

  4. This seems backwards. When I was growing up to play tackle football at least peewee there were weight limits. Also rather than hitting there was a whole lot of grabbing and dragging down plus this is before puberty so not enough mass to generate forces required for big hits.

    It wasn’t until I got to high school, after age13, that I experienced a hit hard enough to cause a concussion though I didn’t know what it was at the time.

  5. @valentino8100 says:
    Jul 20, 2016 11:06 AM

    Kids are like rubber. Not a lot of mass or strength moving about under age 14. The “majority” of people are often clueless regarding matters for which they are polled -shocker. Damn I hate this time of the NFL news cycle.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Unless and until you’re on a football field coaching/officiating children < 10 playing tackle football, you would soften your position. I've seen bodies get contorted, bent and slammed in ways that shouldn't happen. Tackle football at any age is dangerous. I love the sport and played it…fortunately never had serious injuries. My son played it too, but I was happy when he chose to stop playing in high school.

  6. The continued wussification of America continues.

    Thank God Trump will be President come November!!

    Make The Football Great Again!!!!!

  7. I truly believe that there will be a real movement to ban football all together in the next decade or so. I sure hope I am wrong but I could definitely see it coming.

  8. Back in the day, in pickup games, we played tag football on the city streets. But in the park we played tackle football, without helmets and without pads. Of course, since the tackler had no helmet or pads, he couldn’t tackle as hard as a person can with the equipment. We didn’t have the money to play in organized leagues given the price for equipment and league fees.

  9. Meanwhile many areas are eliminating flag football in grades 1-4 because parents were steering children toward the existing tackle leagues, believing that the tackle leagues lead to more scholarship opportunities.

  10. Good God. Playing pee wee football taught me many things. How to work as a team, to focus, to win individual battles, how it hurt to lose and thrilling to win. If they do this your just going to create a bunch of soft kids. But even following their logic, its ok to expose 15 and older kids to the risk of football? Ridiculous.

  11. Football could be relatively “safe” at young ages if the right people were coaching children. However, there are far too few qualified coaches out there who know what they’re doing, so many teams are coached by an angry dad in a backwards hat screaming to hit harder because they don’t really know what else to say. This leads to many kids not learning the fundamentals of the game and how to play it safely, which eventually leads to problems in higher levels of football. If youth football teams could be coached by people who understand how to teach fundamentals of football and playing the game safely, things could be a lot better.

  12. This just in, large majority are for the weakening of America.

    SMH

    Just put your kids in bubble wrap and homeschool them if you are so afraid for them.

  13. jonwill57 says:
    Jul 20, 2016 11:19 AM
    @valentino8100 says:
    Jul 20, 2016 11:06 AM

    Kids are like rubber. Not a lot of mass or strength moving about under age 14. The “majority” of people are often clueless regarding matters for which they are polled -shocker. Damn I hate this time of the NFL news cycle.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Unless and until you’re on a football field coaching/officiating children < 10 playing tackle football, you would soften your position. I've seen bodies get contorted, bent and slammed in ways that shouldn't happen. Tackle football at any age is dangerous. I love the sport and played it…fortunately never had serious injuries. My son played it too, but I was happy when he chose to stop playing in high school.
    ————————————————————

    If you're going to play sports, you're going to have injuries. The big concern here is CTE. I'd bet it all that there's not enough mass, speed, and strength below 14 to create the g-forces needed to cause increased incidences of CTE, which was the focus of the study.

  14. In fact, 85 percent of respondents said it was either “certainly true” (31 percent) or “probably true” (54%) that there is a settled science that playing football can cause CTE.
    ________

    So 85% of respondents know nothing about science. That seems about right.

  15. Have you ever seen small kids play tackle football? Lol the pads are so heavy on them that they can’t run full speed. There is a difference between an 80-100LB boy compared to a grown a** 250LB man.

  16. Everyone here is wrong except me: First it’s not about toughness. You can be the toughest person in the world and still get CTE, now you are a tough person with CTE. The value of toughness shouldn’t be held higher than our value of quality of life and the ability to prevent a life of pain in exchange for the gratification of parents who didn’t make it on the JV squad.

    soccer does it better, you start with 5v5 small sided games and build upon skills in a program. You teach proper technique, skills, rules, and most importantly make it fun and safe! there is risk when you put your kind into a sport no matter how safe you try to make it, but there are ways to foster learning and make better athletes in that way.

  17. I love football and I want other people to let their kids play so I’ll be able to watch into my old age.
    I would never allow my kids to play.

  18. You all know this is going to become nothing more than a pass and catch league very soon. Some folks will love all the offense and record breakings but those of us that love every aspect of the game will watch less and less. If the millennials and their kids don’t fall in love with it and become huge fans the NFL will lose its place in sports popularity in a hurry. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

  19. Doing away with youth football would be a mistake.

    It would take away from a lot of inner city kids. It affords an apportunity for them to meet other kids and get some good direction from decent coaches. Yes there are maniacs but there are ones that truly care. Makes them appreciate what it’s like to be part of something

    I don’t want to see kids hurt but I also don’t want to take away something that some young kids look forward to.

  20. Football could be relatively “safe” at young ages if the right people were coaching children.
    —————-
    The best comment I have read on here so far!

  21. Football could be relatively “safe” at young ages if the right people were coaching children.
    ————————–

    The best comment I have read on here so far!

  22. So in other words, there are many people who have no idea what causes concussion or how concussion is linked to CTE. But, based on the ignorance of parents who are completely uninformed we should set up sports leagues. Brilliant!

    Alternatively, one might use this same polling data to realize there is a huge education problem among parents and begin by addressing that issue first by getting the word out about what we do know that does contribute increases in concussion. This is applicable not for just football, but for other sports with head contact injuries, e.g. soccer.

    For example, the speed and size of the players is directly related to the frequency and severity of concussion, in football. This is the reason that concussion is much less common among high school and college-level players than professional. Yet, among schools with large kids and that play at high speeds (e.g. top high schools and colleges) the risks increase).

    One might also see tremendous benefit, while the kids are not large and fast enough to hurt themselves, to learn proper tackling and blocking techniques. Of course, flag football will teach none of this. Would it not make sense to use the younger ages as the time to ingrain these techniques?

  23. My son played from 7 years old, until he graduated a year ago. Last half of his playing days they started teaching “heads up” tackling, which I believe helped lesson the number of head injuries.

    Number of kids playing is definitely and issue where he went to school. They had to combine the Freshman and JV teams just to field the JV team. Yeah, head injuries are an issue for sure. But does every single person who played football have issues? It truly is how that person was taught to tackle, and about the number of years. If you add an additional 4 years of college ball, along with a pro career, probably going to see more issues than a kid who played for his local schools.

    Would I still allow him to play if he was 7 again? Yes. Honestly football taught him leadership skills that helped him become the man he is today. Strange thing is, the concussion he got playing sports was during a wrestling camp!

  24. As someone who played Pop Warner football from third grade all the way till I was a freshman in High School playing High School football. The danger of the sport really starts to come into play at the high school level. Kids playing football under the age of 14 has almost no risk at all to get CTE. The fear mongering from the society is unreal at times

  25. I hope someone gets where I’m going with this: But that means 28% of the population does not have an issue with tackle football, who are you to tell them how to raise their kids? If even one person thinks it’s okay, that enough to say it’s okay.

  26. And, there you have it – those wanting the Nanny State are getting what they want. Next, we will hear just how dangerous the invention of the ball is. It has caused so many deaths from kids running into the street after them, concussions and broken bones, fights and all manner of inherent danger to the kids of this nation.

  27. BTW,having played football up to and through college (in the 80’s), we KNEW then that concussions had long-term affects. All we had to do was to watch the deterioration of Muhammad Ali.

  28. It would be nice to know how many of the 1,000 every played youth football. The smaller the players are the less chance there is of a concussion. Mass times velocity. If a young player or ANY player continues to tackle headfirst, he should be removed from the game for his own safety.

  29. This is the opposite of what they should be doing. I’ll bet most of these voters never played football. Kids under 14 don’t hit hard enough to cause any problems. In fact, most high school kids aren’t even getting hit. College and junior college is a whole different ballgame. There is a significant difference once you get out of high school. But parents who take their kids out of football, but continue to feed them a diet that’s high in sugar, are the parents who will have unhealthy kids, regardless of if they ever step foot on a field of any kind.

  30. Let’s try this again, for those who cannot decipher an abbreviated comment:

    There parochial league my sons played 3rd & 4th grade flag football in from 2003-2005 subsequently switched to tackle. The stated reason was that they were losing too many players to the independent tackle leagues. The reason this was occurring was because those parents thought playing tackle was a better opportunity to advance through high school into college.

    The point is that some parents are doing exactly the opposite of what this poll reveals as the majority.

    Personally, I believe the younger guys learn more about the game playing flag. There is still contact on the line, depending on the type of flag league.

  31. I played tackle from age 9 both ways on the lines and wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. I get why people are concerned though. I got my bell rung a few times breaking through the O-line and catching a FB in the mouth. It’s not fun and you can definitely tell the difference between that and a normal hit. It stings right behind the jaw.

    I played in an adult flag football league for years after college. We had full contact lines where I played and it was awesome. All you really needed was a mouth guard. I see something like that as an alternative to youth football. It wouldn’t exclude young agile fat kids like myself from the game and would let linemen nurture the physicality they need to be great.

    Don’t get me wrong I don’t think it NEEDS to change, but it will. So when it does it would be nice if the physical side wasn’t gone completely.

  32. Kids can declare they are boy instead of a girl now in elementary school but we better not let that newly pronounced boy play tackle football or something really bad could happen to them…..

  33. Must have polled 1,000 liberals/democrats/leftists.

    They are all soft.

    —————————————————–

    Bingo!

  34. Far more kids end up with head injuries from recreational snowboarding and skiing than football. Yet… no outrage, no calls for banning kids from snowboarding. Issues like these are all politics.

  35. Just want to point out that 11 kids died playing high school football last year

    Can you imagine the outcry that would occur if someone died on the pro-football field on primetime TV?

  36. thraiderskin says:
    Jul 20, 2016 1:20 PM
    I hope someone gets where I’m going with this: But that means 28% of the population does not have an issue with tackle football, who are you to tell them how to raise their kids? If even one person thinks it’s okay, that enough to say it’s okay.

    _________________________________________________________

    I don’t get where you’re going with this, because it’s 28% of the 1,000 people polled, not 28% of the population.

    Big difference.

  37. No, way better to have them hang around on inner city street corners where it’s safe.

  38. devindenv says:
    Jul 20, 2016 1:25 PM

    BTW,having played football up to and through college (in the 80’s), we KNEW then that concussions had long-term affects. All we had to do was to watch the deterioration of Muhammad Ali

    Same here and it is very true even then we knew about concussions and how it could affect you. But, we also were flagged if we led with our helmet to tackle, were taught heads up tackling (yes we learned tackling in practice), and we had to practice tackling over and over again until we got it right. Head up, wrap up, and drive through the player.
    Now? I don’t think it is being taught right because they want less contact in practice which leads to poor technique and more injuries.

  39. httr4life4ever says:
    Jul 20, 2016 3:52 PM
    The Sissification of America…Can’t play kickball no more, Tag no more, Dodgeball no more…America has turned into a bunch of soft babies nowadays!

    ————

    Yes….it’s a Liberal utopia!

  40. As some who grew up with drugs, money, and rock-and-roll I often wonder how my health would be if I had focused on sports instead. One thing is clear, kids today are much better at life choices than my generation.

  41. All of the “Sissification of America” posters, and the ones that feel the game is being ruined are a bunch of knuckle dragging, mouth breathing morons,…plain and simple. I have socks in my drawer with more intelligence….

    That being said…

    I’m a youth football coach. We teach the heads up method of tackling, we teach kids to make good solid tackles, without using there heads. Using your head in football has no place, and should never be taught.

    Aside from the obvious of putting the player(s) at risk, it’s just plain old bad, stupid football. I’d much rather have a tackle made, than somebody who will frequntly miss tackles attempting to blow up another player.

    The days of “bite the football”, ” put your face mask in his chest” etc, are over…and it’s got as much to do with proper football fundamentals as it does with player safety… The people who think the game is being diluted because of it are mental sissies.

  42. I understand parents being cautious with their children but consider this. Currently CTE can only be diagnosed posthumously. About 50 million people die worldwide annually and about 50 are tested for CTE. The ones tested for CTE almost exclusively play professional contact sports, specifically football. In other words 1 out of 1,000,000 people that die are tested an all tested are in a group specifically targeted. Just goes to show you the power of the media because science has come nowhere close to proving this.

  43. Purple, the 1,000 people polled number is meant to represent the population as a whole. Since no poll actually reflects the opinion of every single American, polls typically use a smaller, “random” number to help best reflect the overall population as a whole. Now I’m not an expert in statistics, but I did stay at a Holiday INN Express and I was made to believe this is a common understanding… but atleast you were incapable of figuring out my jab… you have that going for you.

  44. Maybe it’s just me but playing tackle football when I was younger prepared me for it in high school. I can’t imagine getting hit for the first time by a 250lb high-school linebacker. You won’t have the skills you develop to minimize the hits.

  45. rickditka says:
    Jul 20, 2016 4:54 PM
    The Communists want to end football. So, we’ll get lots of stats telling us that everyone wants to end football

    ——————————————————–

    Absolutely Priceless. Truth spoken.

  46. I don’t understand why you keep biting the hand that feeds you.

    That aside, kids are the most resilient among us, not to mention the smallest. The risk to playing tackle football isn’t severe when you weigh 84lbs. I’m a college educated social liberal and can say that the sissification of America is alive and well.

  47. My son is 14, I wouldn’t allow him to play tackle football until 10th grade. Ive played tackle football til my mid 40s, semi pro. Kids aren’t even close in level of ability at younger ages, and some of these parents and coaches don’t get it either

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