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Support for Ban on Contact in Youth Football Growing, Survey Shows

Nearly half of all Americans say they would favor a ban on contact in youth football among kids that have not yet entered middle school. The 47.6 percent number comes from a recent survey released Thursday by Robert Morris University.

That number falls to 40.5 percent when the age is increased to high school. 

Among males who played football in their youth, the percentage slips to 44.3 for a ban prior to middle school and 38.2 for a ban prior to high school.

Samantha Monda, RMU assistant professor of psychology with a specialty in sports psychology, said the numbers among former players show head injuries among football players is not a new issue.

“It confirms what there experiences were," Monda said. "You would think that maybe someone who played football would be less likely to support the ban because they have an attachment to the sport, however if you have someone that also is supporting the ban and they played the sport, they understand the culture of the sport and the mechanics of the sport.”

She thinks the recent increase in the number of former professional athletes talking about the negative impacts that concussions have had in their lives, coupled with new medical studies is beginning to change the public’s perception.

“We are learning so much about concussions in such a short period of time that one of the problems is that (the public is) trying to keep up with the information that’s being put out there so this is new data on what people’s attitudes are as this information unfolds,” Monda said.

The survey from the Robert Morris University Polling Institute Powered by Trib Total Media also found that 49.3 percent of respondents with kids would encourage their own child or another child to wait until they reach high school before playing contact football.

When respondents were given information about research that shows increased numbers of elementary- and middle-school-age youth suffering spine and neck injuries as well as concussions, 47.6 percent of the 1,003 respondents supported a ban on youth playing contact football prior to entering middle school. 

Monda said she was heartened by the numbers.

“The fact that people found this issue to be important and that they cared and were thinking about potential legislation changes or policies and procedures that could potentially impact kids in a positive way was something very promising,” she said.

WESA will be surveying Pennsylvania candidates for federal and state office for the 2022 general election — tell us which issues are most important to you.