Here’s why a doctor lets his son play tackle football (Listen)
People often rely on one or two statistics when they assume that tackle football is dangerous, so Dr. Donald Haas called to help us get the full picture of what's at stake when you let your kid play.
Haas in the President of the Pop Warner football league where my son plays, and a cardiologist with a degree in bio-statistics, which allows him to assess the numbers related to this activity.
"We have excellent data and statistics that are published in the medical journals as recently as this year regarding the risk of concussion in football, and that's not what's presented in the media," said Haas. "In fact, often what we see in the media is a lot of hype or escalation of the stated risk, which really isn't I think accurate in the way it's presented."
According to Haas, concussions are often presented as relative risks, comparing one sport's rate of injury to another. For example, I had asked him whether soccer is actually safer than football. It turns out the answer to my question is no, and what actually matters when assessing concussions is absolute risk.
"There is a risk of concussion in any sport out there. You can't eliminate risk," Haas said. "The real issue is identifying that concussion early."
He said the way a team handles concussions is key. Pop Warner, for example, has a low threshold for taking kids off the field, and does not allow them to return until they've been cleared by a physician.
Haas' son plays tackle football, and so does mine. I wanted my son to play prior to high school so that he could learn the game well before taking harder hits. We agree that you can't completely avoid risks, so it's important to educate ourselves and let our kids get out on the field.