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If Football Sabatoging Boys?

Good question that talented writer Gregg Easterbrook takes on at ESPN. I think he's on to something. When I researched the book on Michelle Rhee I was struck by the attitude many parents -- yes parents -- had about their sons playing football and basketball. Many thought it was more important than academics.

Easterbrook has a different take, but reaches the same conclusion:


Perhaps female success in college is a reflection of women taking over the world, as Rosin argues here. But why are women taking over the world? Rosin supposes that in the modern knowledge economy, superior college performance confers a substantial advantage on women.

But why are women doing so well in college? Maybe one of the reasons is that many boys are seeing their college chances sabotaged by football.

Rising interest in athletics cannot in and of itself be the explanation, because in the last generation, girls' and women's participation in athletics has skyrocketed. But there is one sport girls do not play -- football. The gender that plays football is falling behind in college. The gender that does not play football is excelling.

Is brain harm to boys from football a factor? This new article in the technical journal Neurosurgery finds that suffering two or more concussions during high school days is associated with neurological problems later in life. Probably rising awareness of concussions, especially the new trend to require concussion seminars for high school coaches and teachers (see more below), will help mitigate part of the problem.

At the same time, youth tackle football is growing in popularity, which means ever-more young boys being hit on the head. The immature brain case of preteens is more vulnerable to harm than the heads of high-school-aged teens. Even the low-speed, low-impact head hits of Pop Warner-style youth football may cause gradually accumulating damage. As the important new book "The Concussion Crisis," by Linda Carroll and David Rosner, shows in detail, lots of minor hits to the helmet may cause football players more harm than a few big hits. As more young boys play full-pads youth football, they sustain lots of minor hits to the helmet.


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