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Concussions and the Future of Youth Football Explored in Special Report

Curious what lies ahead for youth football given the swath of concussion research that's surfaced in recent years?

That's one of the main subjects of a new special report that launched last week on TheMMQB.com (an offshoot of Sports Illustrated).

The MMQB surveyed 98 parents of high school football players, asking two questions: "Are you worried about how football will impact your son's health later in life?" and "Have you ever thought of telling your son he can't play football?" Sixty-five of the 98 parents expressed concern about the impact of football on their children, while 20 admitted they've thought of telling their sons that they can't play.

The site also interviewed parents, high school coaches, and current high school football players about their perceptions regarding youth-football safety. A high school coach in Alaska said "the sport of football is going to slowly die" if "coaches don't take the time to change old techniques," while two other coaches also stressed the importance of teaching safe tackling. One player who sustained a concussion last year told the site, "If I keep thinking about health, I won't enjoy football," while another said that he stopped leading with his head while tackling because of the news regarding head injuries.

In a separate article, a high school football coach who asked to remain anonymous called coaching a "moral dilemma I grapple with nearly every time we go out for practice and every time we take the field on Friday nights." Citing the growing library of research on head injuries in football, he believes football will eventually be buried "under an undeniable truth: that we shouldn't be playing this game."

Another high school football coach, Jeff Scurran of the Tucson, Ariz.-based Catalina Foothills High School, ran a counterpiece on TheMMQB.com suggesting that football will survive because "as a society, we need the sport." He asks if high school football coaches aren't teaching student-athletes hustle, discipline, teamwork, and determination, who will? Scurran believes that re-education of coaches, better equipment, and the development of new safety techniques can help save the game.

There's far more in TheMMQB's special report, so check out the whole thing here. It's worth noting, though, that the site's survey of parents lines up with the findings of another recent survey, the HBO Real Sports/Marist Poll, which found that 13 percent of Americans wouldn't let their sons participate in youth football due to safety concerns. Roughly 1 in 3 Americans in that poll said they were less likely to allow their children to play football due to what they know about football-related head injuries and long-term brain damage.

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