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‘Don't let kids play football’: a killer idea
  1. James MacDonald1,2,
  2. Gregory D Myer3,4,5,6
  1. 1Department of Pediatric and Family Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  2. 2Division of Sports Medicine, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  3. 3Division of Sports Medicine, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
  4. 4Departments of Pediatrics and Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
  5. 5The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA
  6. 6Department of Orthopaedics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gregory D Myer, Cincinnati Children's Hospital, 3333 Burnet Avenue, MLC 10001, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA; greg.myer{at}

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Recent calls to ban or curb youth tackle football, rugby and other contact sports markedly underplay an essential point: it is generally more dangerous for youth to be sedentary than to risk injury playing a contact sport. And for many kids, sports are the only thing that will get them away from smartphones and off the couch.

Please hear us out. As experts in paediatrics, sports medicine and injury biomechanics, we understand that brain injury caused by blows to the head in sports is a serious medical issue for athletes of all ages. But the answer is not shutting down youth sports programmes, as some well-intentioned advocates suggest. We are convinced this would have unintended consequences and ultimately do more harm than good.

We also must recognise the limitations of current science. If concussions seem to be on the rise,1 it is possible that caregivers are doing a better job than ever identifying them when they happen. Also, more kids, especially girls, are playing all sports than they were decades ago. Moreover, the highly publicised brain damage known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), discovered in a targeted sample of …

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  • Twitter Follow Gregory Myer at @gregmyer11

  • Contributors JM and GDM conceived, drafted, edited and approved the final draft of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.