How Safe are Kids on the Field?

How Safe are Kids on the Field?


A number of scientists agree that children should not be playing football between the ages 10 and 12 because the brain is experiencing critical growth during these years.  

According to a recent long-term study conducted at Boston University, those who play youth football before the age of 12 will be more likely to develop clinical depression and issues with behavior regulation later in life.

The study was a survey that took a random sample of 241 former football players with an average age of 51.  The survey results included 43 high school players, 103 college players and another 68 played in the NFL.  The survey showed that the players in all categories who started football before the age of 12 doubled their risk of clinical depression.  This research agrees with multiple studies that have been conducted in the past.  

At Pentucket, students and faculty have conflicting opinions on this subject.  Senior Jessica Colbert, for example,  responded: “I don’t know, I think playing tackle football at such a young age just isn’t good for developmental reasons.  Instead I think kids should play flag football before high school.  I mean I know I wouldn’t want my kids to be getting hurt at such a young age.”  On the other hand, some students do not think the this matter should be an issue.  Senior and captain of the football team, Brandon Wilbur, expresses no concern for the brain issues that may be associated with playing football at an early age. “Everyone should play,” Wilbur said, “It’s the best sport in America.”  

Football coach, Coach Hayden ultimately cares most for his players’ safety: “We try to make it as safe as we can, I mean there’s always risks.  Just like driving a car.” Coach Hayden believes that children should start playing football around seventh or eighth grade because young children  playing tackle football is dangerous and they can develop poor habits that cause them to tackle incorrectly.  

Although there are conflicting views about whether or not young children should play football, there is growing evidence that brain damage can be developed later in life for young football players.  At Pentucket Regional High School, safety is a number one priority for the football players.