Pittsburgh, November 14, 2013 – More than 40 percent of Americans support a ban on youth playing contact football up until entering high school, according to a survey of 1,003 adults by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute Powered by Trib Total Media.
Given studies showing “adult-sized impacts” that youth as young as seven years old are receiving, a significant percent of Americans, 40.5 percent, support a ban on youth playing contact football. Another 48.4 percent were opposed to such a ban and 11.1 percent were unsure. Among only those with an opinion – support for a ban prior to entering high school was 45.5 percent compared to 54.5 percent opposed.
Further, and taking into account research showing increased numbers of elementary- and middle-school-age youth suffering spine and neck injuries as well as concussions, more Americans, 47.6 percent, support a ban on youth playing contact football prior to entering middle school than oppose such a ban (41.2%). Some, 11.2 percent, were unsure. Among only those with an opinion, support for a ban prior to entering middle school was 53.6 percent compared to 46.4 percent opposed.
“It’s encouraging that the general public finds the issue of children’s health in sports to be important. In order to reduce the incidence and severity of concussions, an attitude shift is necessary among those involved in youth sports. We need to continue to educate athletes, parents, coaches, and fans about the effects of concussions and raise awareness of best practices for prevention,” said Samantha Monda, sports psychologist at Robert Morris University.
Males surveyed who played contact football were almost as likely to support a ban on youth playing contact football prior to high school (38.2 percent) and prior to middle school (44.3 percent) as the general population surveyed.
Adults with children who did or do play contact football were also almost as likely to support a ban on youth playing prior to high school (41.2 percent) and prior to middle school (46.6 percent), as the general population surveyed.
More survey respondents, 49.3 percent, would encourage their own child or another child to wait until they reach high school before playing contact football than those who would not make such a recommendation (36.4 percent).
“The research is rapidly evolving, but we know that brains are particularly vulnerable during childhood and adolescence. Minimizing the exposure to contact, training coaches about concussion prevention and management, and teaching players to use proper technique and adhere to the rules are all strategies to help improve player safety,” said Monda.
Tony Dorsett, Joe Delamielleure, and Leonard Marshall have been in the news lately in reporting ongoing symptoms of head injuries suffered over time from playing football. Each has been diagnosed with CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Terry Bradshaw acknowledged recently that he is suffering from memory problems that he believes are connected to his Hall of Fame football career.
Two-fifths of all survey respondents, 40 percent, see injuries to all players, from our youth to the pros, meaning that football will likely follow boxing in declining popularity and support over the years ahead. Another 45.9 percent disagree and 14.2 percent were unsure.
ABOUT THE POLL: The Poll was conducted by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute Powered by Trib Total Media. Polling by the Institute is conducted on a regular basis and may also include spontaneous polling on occurring events.
METHODOLOGY: The Poll sampled opinions of 1003 approximately proportional to state population contribution nationwide. The survey was conducted October 23 – November 1, 2013. All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The poll has a +/- 3.0 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level on a composite basis.
ABOUT ROBERT MORRIS UNIVERSITY
Robert Morris University, founded in 1921, is a private, four-year institution with an enrollment of approximately 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university offers 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs. An estimated 22,000 alumni live and work in western Pennsylvania.
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