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Jackie Burrell

Young Football Players & Brain Damage

By October 22, 2009

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Alabama Crimson Tide Football Game (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Got a college or high school athlete? Scary news about the risks of concussions and long term brain damage in the New York Times today. Seems the same type of brain injuries seen in boxers - and eight NFL football players who died in their 30s, 40s or early 50s - has popped up in a former college football player who didn't go pro. In other words, it's not just the intense, physical atmosphere of pro football games that causes chronic traumatic encephalopathy. And it's not just concussions. Now researchers are looking at football's "repetitive subconcussive blows" and youth sports and the possible impact on the brain.

"The focus of the discussion of brain-trauma issue has been on the NFL. It really needs to be on youth players," Sports Legacy Institute co-founder Chris Nowinski told the NY Times. "Ninety-nine percent of football players in this country are college and below. They're not being paid. They don't have as good access to medical people. And the fact that they're at risk for this disease should give us great pause."

Scary. Do you have a football player? Is this something you worry about? Or was the possibility of injury the reason you encouraged your child to try a different sport? (So asks the mother of swimmers and water polo players...)

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