The Spur

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

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Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a growing problem in all contact sports, but particularly football. It is such a problem that some parents are not letting their kids play football in fear of CTE.
But, is that really the best course of action? Football has so many benefits to the youth players. Benefits that these kids will be missing out on if their parents hold them out of football.
I went to a conference this summer at US Bank stadium. The conference was on coaching youth football and the benefits of playing youth football. At the conference, a professor from the University of Minnesota talked on the four biggest benefits playing youth football has on kids.
The first was health benefits. Both physical and mental health were included. Football provides mental and physical benefits to kids through physical activity. These included strength, cardiovascular endurance and flexibility. Some mental benefits included boosting self-esteem, problem-solving and leadership.
Without youth football, kids were more likely to develop depression, diabetes and obesity.
The next benefit was camaraderie. Football gives kids an outlet to make friends through common interests and shared hardships (such as competition and hard practices). The friendships and teamwork learned through football can last a lifetime, as well as help these kids later in life.
The third benefit is discipline. This is very helpful for kids in troubled areas. Football will help to keep these kids off the streets and teach them to pay attention to detail. Another skill that will help them later in life.
Last but not least is work ethic. Developing a strong work ethic starts early in football. Repeating drills, running plays in practice, showing up to the game after a tough loss and trying again is all about work ethic. Youth football begins to lay the foundation of a strong work ethic for kids that will help them win and lose throughout their lives.
CTE is a growing problem, yes, and I understand that. But the chances of a youth football player getting hit in the head hard enough to develop CTE, at that young of an age, is basically at zero percent. If parents continue to take their kids out of football, they will ultimately be losing out on these four benefits, plus many more.

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Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy