Although education, training, and improved equipment are all worth encouraging, they do not change the fundamental risks of the sport. Football is a contact game in which repeated full-body collisions place players' brains at risk of chronic trauma. We must acknowledge that the risk of head injuries is inherent to tackle football, even at the youth level, and will remain significant even with new equipment designs or the best tackling techniques.

These are complex ethical issues that involve not only examining the latest concussion research, but also our values and beliefs about how much risk is appropriate for children. Of course, children should be encouraged to play and lead active lives, and experiencing some amount of risk in childhood is inevitable. But how much risk is too much?

Addressing this question will require a robust public discussion involving parents, coaches, school administrators, fans, trainers, physicians, sporting goods manufacturers, and the players themselves. While children certainly benefit from participation in team sports, it remains a question whether other sports can offer those same benefits while posing less risk of brain injury than tackle football. Do the risks of America's most popular sport outweigh its benefits for young children?

Kathleen E. Bachynski is a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. She studies the history and ethics of public health, with a focus on injury prevention.

Daniel S. Goldberg, J.D., Ph.D, is assistant professor in the Department of Bioethics & Interdisciplinary Studies in the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. He is trained as an attorney, an historian, and a public health ethicist, and researches a variety of issues related to health inequalities, chronic illness, and the social determinants of health.

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