This is a question I get frequently from concerned parents. While that decision is up to each family, in this article, I will give you my opinion and rationale for why I think this way.
My first reaction to this question is typically no. I recommend this because when compared to all other sports, I have seen more injuries in my office from high school football than any other sport. The typical presentation from this is older men who have a long standing chronic issue that they said stemmed from an old high school football injury. With this in mind, I tried to deduce why football has such an increased number of injuries versus other sports. Also, keep in mind I am referring only to musculoskeletal injuries and not touching on the potential for concussions.
With all the associated injuries in football, I tried to break down some of the rationales for the frequency of injuries in this sport, especially in the high school population. After some research and thought I came up with three reasons.
1. Pads: In football, the athletes are wearing a significant amount of padding.
Because of this, I believe that it emboldens harder tackles. Teenage boys already think they are invincible and the pads just add to that.
2. The nature of teenage boys.
What I mean by this is two things; first, different teens hit their growth spurt at different times. During the teenage years, you can have a huge size difference between two athletes, this is going to add to the chance of injury when larger teens tackle smaller ones. The second part of this is as I said teenage boys think that they are invulnerable. They will try to continue through injuries, push themselves more than is needed, and hit harder than their bodies can take.
3. The flow of a football game specifically when the play stops.
In football after a tackle is completed the play stops, which means the players have a moment to collect themselves, see if anyone is injured etc. Because of this, when tackling an athlete can put 110% of his effort into the tackle knowing that he doesn’t have to get up after it is completed. This encourages more aggressive tackles which naturally increase the risk of injury.
With any sport there is going to be some risk of injury, this is unavoidable. However, my recommendation is always based on the most mitigation of risk. Rugby and Hockey are two very contact heavy sports, but in those, you don’t see the same degree of tendon and ligament damage as in football. This information is based on my opinion and what I have seen in practice. If you ever have any questions about what sports I would recommend for your child, or if they are recovering from an injury please feel free to contact Active Life at (573) 250-7427.