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Concussion worries force Pa. town to end youth tackle football

Concerns over concussions have forced a Pennsylvania community to drop tackle football for its youth programs.

footballThe Windber Youth Football League (Windber, Pennsylvania) switched from flag to tackle football six seasons ago, but concussion worries have forced league officials to switch back for its third- to sixth-grade teams. According to the New Castle News, the league averaged about two concussions per season.

Another part of the problem is the league’s dwindling numbers. According to the newspaper, the WYFL supported nearly 100 young football players in 2010 and that number is expected to be around 70 for the upcoming season. Fewer participants means more time on the field, heightening the risk for injury.

From the New Castle News:

“The one thing we learned is that with tackle football, you can’t avoid it; there’s always the risk of getting a concussion,” league president Tony Campitell said.

“There’s risks in every sport, but we think shifting back to flag football was the right thing to do for these kids.”

More and more, parents have been questioning whether the fast-paced, contact-heavy tackle game is right for 9- or 10-year-olds, he added.

“This way, when these kids head to junior high to play, they’ll have clear slates.”

In May, a similar move was made in Parsons, Kansas. NFL quarterback Shaun Hill, a Parsons native, helped convince his hometown to switch back to flag football for its 8- and 9-year-olds to protect them from serious head injuries.

A study conducted last year by Boston University showed that NFL players who participated in youth tackle football (younger than age 12) were more likely to have thinking and memory problems as adults.

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