Youth Football Endorsed by Concussion Doctor

Risks of CTE are anecdotal, without evidence

Julian Bailes is is the brain researcher portrayed by actor Alec Baldwin in the movie Concussion. He works closely with Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who it can be said started the war on concussions in football. But while the two partner to study traumatic brain injuries, they have differing opinions regarding the risks of concussion and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)  in youth football.

The New York Times recently ran an op-ed by Omalu, who is a vocal opponent of youth tackle football. Bailes, on the other hand, encourages youngsters to participate in youth football and other organized sports. He cites both the social benefits and ongoing safety improvements in leagues since the furor over concussions began several years ago.

Research vs. anecdotal evidence

Bailes, whose two children play football, is the chairman of the Pop Warner Football medical advisory committee. He’s concerned that the film and Omalu’s article will inevitably keep many parents from having their children play contact sports. He disagrees with the premise that youngsters are at risk for CTE, which results from repeated blows to the head. In his opinion, CTE is an issue for only a minority of former NFL players and a few current players  due to the safety reforms that have been put in place.

Bailes also points out that former players determined to have suffered CTE, which is only diagnosable after death, were those who were known to have displayed possible signs of the disease.

There are no facts supporting diagnosed cases of CTE or brain damage in youth that resulted from playing youth football, said Bailes. Bailes wants parents to understand how the sport has specifically improved the rules for safer play and practice. The ongoing efforts of concussion awareness education for players, parents, and coaches helps parents make the best decision for their child. He concedes that other changes may be ahead such as eliminating punt returns to make the sport as safe as possible.

Concussion risk management

Children participate in risky activities all the time, from snow skiing to driving a car.“We teach [our children] a lot of sports and activities, and so part of that is our responsibility to teach them the safe and right way to do it. But at the end of the day all these activities have potential risks,”  said Bailes.

We have many articles on concussions and risk management programs for youth football and other sports. We at Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance take great pride in promoting the prevention of injuries and best risk management practices so claims can be avoided. Feel free to contact us for more information or for assistance in getting a fast quote for your league or team.

Source: Neil Best, “Concussion’ neurosurgeon Julian Bailes endorses youth football,” 10 Dec. 2015.