Provocative new PSA "Tackle Can Wait" urges parents to wait to enroll their children in tackle football until age 14

Thursday, October 10, 2019

PSA and corresponding marketing campaign suggest we should view youth tackle football as we do youth smoking

(BOSTON) - The Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF) and health and wellness marketing agency Fingerpaint unveiled a new PSA today aimed at convincing parents to wait to allow their children to play tackle football until age 14. The “Tackle Can Wait” PSA drives home the message that youth tackle football is unacceptably dangerous for children.

The Tackle Can Wait campaign is inspired by a study published in the Annals of Neurology medical journal on Monday, which was led by Boston University researchers and concluded that the risk and severity of developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is not correlated to number of concussions, but is instead correlated with the number of years playing tackle football. The link is so profound that a high school football player who starts tackle football at age 5, instead of age 14, has an incredible 10 times the risk of developing the brain disease CTE.

The provocative PSA, which shows youth tackle football players smoking cigarettes while playing the game, is partly inspired by data in the study that shows the link between tackle football and CTE may be stronger than the link between smoking and lung cancer.

“We’ve prevented millions of cases of smoking-related lung cancer by raising the age at which an individual can smoke, and this is our blueprint for Tackle Can Wait,” said Chris Nowinski, Ph.D., Concussion Legacy Foundation CEO and study co-author. “Our best opportunity to prevent future CTE cases is to delay the age at which a child begins playing tackle football. If we are successful in convincing parents to wait until 14, we expect to prevent more than 50 percent of future CTE cases.”

The campaign was led by two daughters who both lost their fathers to CTE, Rebecca Carpenter and Fingerpaint employee Angela Harrison, and former NFL player Chris Borland.

“It’s hard to put into words the experience of being the daughter of a former football player with CTE,” said Harrison. “Rebecca Carpenter and I are passionately committed to saving other families from the horrors of this disease.”

Harrison, who led the creative on the campaign, is the daughter of Joe Campigotto, a star college football player who died with late-stage CTE in 2016 at age 65. She is also the mother of two young boys.

Carpenter, who directed the award-winning film Requiem for a Running Back, directed the PSA. She is the daughter of former NFL running back Lew Carpenter, who died with late-stage CTE in 2010.

“I think it’s wise for kids to wait until high school to play tackle football,” said Borland, a former NFL linebacker who is featured in the PSA as a referee. “Playing youth tackle football doesn’t increase the odds that you’ll get a scholarship, or that you’ll play professionally. It does, however, increase the odds that you’ll contract CTE.”

You can view the full spot, watch behind the scenes footage of the campaign and learn more about the study using the links below:

*Embed links for each video are available upon request.

About Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE):

CTE is a neurodegenerative disease associated with deficits in cognition, behavior, and mood. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is believed to be caused by repetitive head impacts, including concussions as well as sub-concussive trauma. Learn more at ConcussionFoundation.org/CTE.

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