Texas Youth League Cuts Tackle Football Out of Safety Concerns
Tackle football is on its way out for some kids at an East Texas school. Amid safety concerns, Marshall Independent School District is changing its 7th grade program to flag football – and it’s doing so with little objection.
“I’m surprised, in some ways, because you know how it is in a one high school town where football is everything,” said Marc Smith, the superintendent of the Marshall Independent School District. “I anticipated a little more resistance and concern. But the safety factor really resonated with our parents. They get it, and they see their little 11- or 12-year-olds getting slammed to the ground.”
No one here considers the decision the beginning of the end of scholastic football in Texas. The sport remains wildly popular, and recreational tackle leagues are open to 5-year-olds. But because it is happening in Texas, an otherwise small move to end a seventh-grade tackle program reflects how the issue of brain trauma has begun to affect the football landscape.
In less than a decade, hits to the head have gone from an unavoidable (and underreported) byproduct of a tough sport to an injury that has altered the way the game is played. Recent research has indicated that players as young as 7 sustain hits to the headcomparable in magnitude to those absorbed by high school and adult players.
Outnumbered’s #oneluckyguy, Brian Kilmeade, does not believe the school’s decision is part of a “wussification of America.”
He said a notable amount of professional football players have spoken out about the safety issues of the sport.
“A lot of the best players started in ninth grade,” Kilmeade noted. “So they’re taking their time.”
He said new helmet technology can be implemented to protect players from brain damage.
“Head injuries are real. No matter how tough you are, you cannot protect your brain from slamming into the top of the skull,” Kilmeade added.
Katie Pavlich warned that prohibiting tackle football for middle schoolers could be a slippery slope.
She argued, “I think that watering down all of our sports redefines the sport and […] if you’re going to take away one of the key aspects of football, which is guys beating each other up, it’s not football.”