Is 13 too young for tackle football?

Oct 30, 2012, 3:26 PM | Updated: Nov 1, 2012, 6:19 am
LISTEN:
There's a battle brewing over how old kids should have to be to play sports like football, hockey and soccer. (AP Photo/file)
(AP Photo/file)

At what age is it safe for kids to play tackle football or body check in hockey?

There’s a battle brewing in Switzerland over that question. A world-renowned concussion expert says we should set an age limit on letting kids participate, but a local doctor thinks that is a terrible idea.

Dr. Robert Cantu is a professor of Neurosurgey at the Boston University School of Medicine. He is one of the featured speakers at the 4th Annual International Consensus Conference on Concussion at the FIFA Headquarters in Zurich.

Dr. Cantu is proposing that children under the age of 14 should not be allowed to take part in the more dangerous aspects of sports like football, hockey and soccer.

“The scientific evidence that age 14 is the right age, is a bit of a stretch,” counters Dr. Stan Herring, Director of Sports and Orthopedic Medicine at the UW Medical Center.

Dr. Herring is also a team physician for the Seahawks and the Mariners. He is attending the conference in Switzerland, in part, to counter Dr. Cantu’s recommendation.

He says he hasn’t seen any evidence that 14-year-olds are better able to handle the damage done by a concussion than are kids who are 12 or 13. Herring also worries an age limit would give parents a false sense of security.

“I don’t want parents to allow their parents to participate in sports thinking that all safety measures have been met. We just don’t know,” says Herring.

Washington passed the ground breaking Lystedt Law on youth concussions in 2009. It has now been copied by 40 other states, and Herring argues this is a better approach. Herring will be presenting Lystedt at the conference in Zurich.

The law includes specific guidelines about how teams have to treat kids who may have suffered a concussion during a practice or a game. It also requires parents and athletes to be given information ahead of time about how to spot the injury.

“Sports is really pretty safe for most kids, and even most concussions are safe,” Herring says. “The great majority of people who suffer concussions get better, but not everyone does.”

At the end of the conference, the experts will try to find consensus. They will be writing a paper to detail what they believe are the best practices for avoiding concussion. Herring says it’s important because their recommendation will likely be a reference for sports organizations around the world.

Other Sports

Spain's players react after the penalty shootout at the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between ...
Associated Press

Young Spain squad and its ‘tiki-taka’ stumble at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Spain lost to Morocco 3-0 in a penalty shootout in the round of 16 at the World Cup on Tuesday, failing to make it to the quarterfinals for the third straight time since winning its last world title in South Africa in 2010. La Roja also lost in a shootout in […]
1 day ago
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo walks during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Portugal a...
Associated Press

Ronaldo loses Portugal spot to sully World Cup journey

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — So, the dream is still alive for Cristiano Ronaldo. Soccer’s most prolific modern-day scorer might yet, at the age of 37 and probably playing in his last World Cup, claim the one major title to elude him in a career like no other. It didn’t quite feel that way, though, as […]
1 day ago
Switzerland's midfielder Granit Xhaka, right, and Switzerland's midfielder Denis Zakaria, left, rea...
Associated Press

Switzerland falls again to first World Cup knockout punch

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Switzerland exited the World Cup at the round of 16 stage, just as it usually does in the modern era. A 6-1 rout by Portugal on Tuesday left little space for feeling that progress was made, even if the squad was hit by a bout of sickness in Qatar. Switzerland’s quest […]
1 day ago
Morocco's head coach Walid Regragui is thrown in the air at the end of the World Cup round of 16 so...
Associated Press

The next World Cup will jump to 48 teams. Is bigger better?

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The next World Cup will be the biggest ever after world soccer body FIFA took the leap from a 32-team field to 48 teams in 2026. It means more of soccer’s so-called “little teams” that didn’t make it to Qatar will be given a chance of a lifetime when the tournament […]
1 day ago
A sunken vehicle sit in the Mesaieed sea-line at the GMC dive site in Mesaieed, Qatar Wednesday, No...
Associated Press

AP PHOTOS: World Cup fans explore Qatar’s artificial reefs

MESAIEED, Qatar (AP) — Thirty feet (9 meters) deep into the waters of the Persian Gulf, angel fish swim in and out of rusted trucks and SUVs. Plastic bags and water bottles, blown in from the nearby shoreline, float across the ocean floor. World Cup fans in Qatar hoping to see some of the Gulf’s […]
1 day ago
Illinois' Terrence Shannon Jr. (0) reacts after scoring and drawing a foul in overtime during the t...
Associated Press

No. 17 Illinois rallies late, beats No. 2 Texas 85-78 in OT

NEW YORK (AP) — Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 12 of his 16 points in overtime, including the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:34 remaining, and No. 17 Illinois rallied to hand second-ranked Texas its first loss of the season, 85-78 on Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic. Jayden Epps added 11 points, including the final five […]
1 day ago
Is 13 too young for tackle football?