Tags: Exclusive Interviews | MidPoint | Football | Children | head | injuries

Ex-Wrestling Pro: No More Organized Tackle Football for Children

By    |   Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 03:29 PM

A former professional wrestler who went on to Harvard University and wrote a pioneering book about head injuries in football says it's time for kids in organized gridiron leagues to give up tackling.

Ex-WWE grappler Chris Nowinski, author of the 2006 exposé, "Head Games: Football's Concussion Crisis," told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Wednesday that football "should be radically changed for children."

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"And that's a reality that we're going to start pushing for in a bigger way — that little kids should not be playing tackle football," said Nowinski, executive director of the Sports Legacy Institute, which he co-founded to address athlete concussions.

"They should be playing flag, [or] seven on seven," he said of anyone below the legal age for informed consent on medical care decisions.

"Football's really a man's game, not a boy's game," he added.

Now that the risks of long-term brain damage from on-field head impacts are more fully understood, Nowinksi said that the National Football League "maybe" has a case for letting the professional game continue as is, "because the players are old enough [that] they have informed consent.

"The children do not," he continued, "and we have to look at getting hit in the head as a risk factor for dementia. We're exposing kids to dementia, so we have to rethink how we play these games."

He said that because the NFL "is actually subsidizing little kids playing tackle football and the training of them . . . they have to really consider their responsibility on this."

Nowinski said that at the time he published "Head Games" — which came out years before the NFL's handling of head injuries became a national story — he strongly believed that the league was actively suppressing evidence of links between head trauma and degenerative brain disease, and wilfully denying that any such correlation existed.

Today, the NFL is trying to reach a massive class-action settlement with retired players, and has recently concluded that one of every three of its retired players will develop cognitive problems related to a career's worth of violent, concussive collisions and impacts.

But Nowinksi said that even with our newfound knowledge, another generation of players faces the prospect of concussion-related illnesses including suicidal depression, behavoiral problems and early-onset dementia.

In a follow-up to its documentary, "League of Denial," the PBS program "Frontline" reported on Tuesday that post-mortem examinations found evidence of degenerative brain disease in 76 of 79 NFL players — a doubling in the number of NFL-related cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

"So we will continue to see this happen," said Nowinski, adding that "It's going to be tough to watch now that everyone knows what to look for."

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A former professional wrestler who went on to Harvard University and wrote a pioneering book about head injuries in football says it's time for kids in organized gridiron leagues to give up tackling.
Football, Children, head, injuries
476
2014-29-01
Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 03:29 PM
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