Click here for more info on League of Denial and for the link to watch it online
After watching “League of Denial” last night and writing a piece on it this morning I couldn’t help but wonder what effect this new documentary was going to have on Pop Warner. If you’re not familiar with PW, it’s basically like the Little League of football. There are PW leagues for kids from ages 5 to 16.
[scroll to the bottom to take the poll]
I emailed Josh Pruce, the National Director of Scholastics and Media Relations, this morning asking for a comment on last night’s documentary. This is the statement he just sent me.
Statement from Jon Butler Executive Director of Pop Warner
We all know more today than we ever did and we have taken important steps over the last several years to protect our players. Whether to play a specific sport is a personal decision, but I’m“the lifelong lessons and health benefits of sports are immeasurable”confident of two things: first, the lifelong lessons and health benefits of sports are immeasurable and, two, at Pop Warner, we are taking the right steps to make this great game safer for kids than it ever has been. Restrictions on contact in practice, requiring medical clearance from independent concussion specialists before returning to play and adding to our coaching education have all been important steps. And we’ll continue to make improvements in order to provide the safest playing environment possible for our young athletes. Because this is not just a football issue, we are excited to join organizations across the sports and medical communities to form the National Sports Concussion Coalition, where we will work together to better understand ways to identify and manage concussion by leaning on evidence-based research.
Pretty much the response I expected. The part that jumped out at me though was the line, “the lifelong lessons and health benefits of sports are immeasurable.” I don’t think it was an accident that he used the word “sports” here instead of “football”.
I have a daughter so this is sort of a moot point for me, but, I have to say that after watching that documentary last night and hearing the things that some of the top neurologists in the country had to say about tackle football I can’t imagine letting a child of mine participate in that sport. I honestly can’t imagine any parent seeing that and thinking, “hmm well it’s worth the risk.” As Dr. McKee says, “you only get one brain.” Why would you even take the chance of risking permanent injury like that?
Yes, I know that the risk of injury is inherent in virtually any sport you decide to play or that you allow your children to play. But having it clearly detailed how, even minor impacts, can cause a child’s brain to slam against the skull thus dramatically increasing the risk of permanent brain injury was enough for me to be convinced that Pop Warner football may be on its way out sooner rather than later.
For those of you that think, “Oh it’s just Pop Warner, it’s just PeeWee football, how hard can they hit?” Check out these videos.
Hard hits in Pop Warner and PeeWee football
What do you think? Do you have/plan on having children? Do you/will you allow your kids to play Pop Warner football?