EDUCATION AND ADVOCACY
Flag Football Under 14
Flag Football Under 14: An educational campaign for parents
To review the science behind Flag Football Under 14, read the White Paper.
If you are a parent considering enrolling your child in football, the Concussion Legacy Foundation strongly recommends you delay enrolling your child in tackle football until the age of 14. Research continues to show us that the long-term effects of repetitive brain trauma from tackle football can be catastrophic. Meanwhile, football experts - from coaches to Hall of Fame players - remind us that you don't need to start tackle young in order to become a great football player. Until tackle football is proven safe for the developing brain, we urgently recommend flag and other non-tackle versions of football before age 14.
As parents, you deserve to make an informed decision about your child's future health. That's why we launched Flag Football Under 14.
Tackle Can Wait
Our award-winning PSA Tackle Can Wait drives home the message that youth tackle football is unacceptably dangerous for children. The PSA and campaign website reference data from a study led by Boston University researchers published in Annals of Neurology, which concluded that the risk of developing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is not linked to number of concussions, but is instead linked with the number of years playing tackle football.
The study found that the risk of CTE increases by 30 percent each year, meaning it doubles for every 2.6 years of football played. Any future high school, college or NFL player who starts tackle football at age five will have 10 times the odds of developing CTE than if he had started at 14. In fact, the link between tackle football and CTE may actually be stronger than the link between smoking and lung cancer.
You wouldn't let your child smoke. When should they start tackle? Watch the PSA.
Smoking in the PSA was simulated. Learn more by visiting the Tackle Can Wait website.
Why age 14?
Flag Football Under 14 is part of the Concussion Legacy Foundation's Don't Hit KidsTM initiative, which aims to accelerate the reform of youth contact sports so that each sport promotes a youth version that does not allow purposeful repetitive brain trauma for children before age 14.
A child's body is not designed for for tackle football. Because the head grows faster than the body, a child's large head makes head impacts inevitable, more powerful, and more dangerous. Plus, the resources and protections in place for high school athletes are vastly different than those typically offered at a youth tackle football game.
Click here to view the full Why Age 14 infographic.
Some of the greatest players in NFL history didn't play tackle football before high school.
Click here to view the all-time greatest NFL team made up entirely of players who did not play tackle football until high school.
Waiting until high school to play tackle football has not held back some of the greatest players in NFL history. We assembled the Flag Football Under 14 All-Time Greatest Team, composed entirely of players who did not start tackle football until high school, to illustrate that it is better to wait. See who joined NFL icons like:
With Tom Brady, Jerry Rice, Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor, and Walter Payton, the list includes the top five players of all-time and 16 Hall of Famers. Every player on the list went to at least three Pro Bowls.
Football stars agree
Some of the most respected names in football agree that playing tackle football too young puts children at an unnecessary risk for additional brain trauma. Iconic coaches and players - including John Madden, Jim Harbaugh, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Tony Romo and many more - believe that waiting to enroll your child in tackle football while their brains are still developing is the best choice.
Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre says he would be reluctant to let his child play tackle football.
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