The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t just call football a contact sport. The medical group also refers to it as a collision sport, because participants routinely slam into each other or into the ground.
AAP released updated guidelines in 2010 on dealing with head injuries in children, recommending that some student-athletes retire from football after multiple concussions or if symptoms from a concussion last longer than three months.
The medical group doesn’t say young people shouldn’t play varsity football, which is what it said about youth boxing in 1997.
Some parents say there are benefits to playing on the gridiron. "I think there's a lot of positive things you can get from playing football. A lot of good lessons kids learn, teamwork, working together for a common goal," Harold Stephens says in the video above.
The National Federation of State High School Associations is the rule-making body for many high school sports and activities. According to NFHS's web site, research shows that students who participate in “more vigorous sports,” including football, do better than their peers in some subjects, including math and science.
The organization says it recognizes the significance of brain injuries in sports. "The NFHS has been the leader among national sports organizations in establishing guidelines to deal with concussions," the organization says on its web site. NFHS says that more than 200,000 people have taken its online course on concussions, which can be accessed for free at www.nfhslearn.com.
Dr. Butler, who played football in high school and college, told CNN Radio that he's concerned about potential lawsuits over football injuries. "My worry is that if we have this information....about how dangerous concussions are, and we continue to fund the program, it seems to me that we are encouraging something that is morally and ethically wrong. It could put a school at financial risk so we don't have enough money to educate the children," Dr. Butler said.