One of the most popular sports in America is football. Sundays from September through February are often spent in front of the television watching football players from the National Football League (N.F.L.) take the field. Many parents spend hours each week during the fall and winter months watching their children play tackle football.
With more and more parents becoming concerned about the long-term dangers of playing tackle football, many are looking for a safer alternative to the game their children love. Research has shown that repeated hits to the head- which can often result in a concussion- can lead to a degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.).
This disease is often seen in retired tackle football players, which is why many are pushing for the safer version of the sport- flag football- to be offered for children under the age of 14. Flag football has seen an increase in support from big-name N.F.L. players like New Orleans Saints’ quarterback, Drew Brees.
Brees, a Super Bowl MVP and the league’s all-time leading passer is also a father of four. Three of his children- son’s Callen, 6, Bowen, 8, and Baylen, 9- play flag football. Their coach is nonother than their famous father.
The 18-year vet believes in flag football so much that he started his own flag football league, known as Football ‘N’ America. Brees isn’t the only member of the N.F.L. to take notice of the increasing risks associated with tackle football. The Chicago Bears donated $15,000 towards a flag football program at Chicago’s Academy for Urban School Leadership.
The N.F.L. itself has also made investments in flag football, most notably by providing grants to hundreds of flag football programs organized by the Boys & Girls Club in addition to televising a series of games played by the American Flag Football League on their N.F.L. Network.
The league is aware that the future of the sport is changing and that more parents are choosing to put their children in flag football programs, or not allow them to participate in the sport at all. Flag football allows children to learn aspects of the sport safely, giving parents more time to determine whether or not their children will participate in tackle football once they reach high school age.