Making the case to play tackle football

Ben rayhorn, 10

Since I was in second grade (I’m in fourth grade now) I have been playing flag football. Tackle football has also been an option through these years, but my parents won’t let me play tackle football until high school. My parents won’t let me play because they don’t want me to get concussions or get injured. I think I should be able to play tackle football because tackle football can help you get out your energy and can teach you good sportsmanship and how to be good at playing with a team.

According to, there was a recent study conducted by the University of Iowa of almost 4,000 players who were in second grade through seventh grade. These players were on youth flag football teams and tackle teams over the course of a season. The study found that kids playing flag football were more than twice as likely to suffer injuries than kids playing tackle football, but the injuries that happened during tackle football were likely to be a more severe. Andrew R. Peterson, MD, MSPH, who conducted the study, said, “It was more common to see minor injuries in flag football, which in retrospect makes sense. We can say they are both reasonably safe, but that flag football isn’t necessarily a safer option.”

If I wait to play tackle football until I am in high school, playing against people who have played tackle before, then I might have a disadvantage. I think I should be able to play tackle football at this age because most kids between the ages of 8-13 can’t hit hard enough yet to cause a concussion. When playing tackle football you have to wear good protective gear like kneepads, a helmet and shoulder pads. The protective gear makes it less likely that I would get a concussion. Plus, for some kids, tackle football can be a lot more fun.

I would rather play the relatively safe and more fun sport of youth tackle football. Some of my friends are doing it and NFL players play tackle, and I want to be an NFL player when I grow up.

According to the website, another study from the University of Pittsburgh and Cornell University tracked 468 participants, ages 8-12 years old from four youth tackle football leagues for a single season. The experts then analyzed the data and the research showed that youth football is a generally safe activity for children age 8-12, especially during practice. The lead author of the study, Anthony Kontos, found that the best way to reduce concussions in youth football is to concentrate on awareness and education programs such as the CDC’s and USA Football’s concussion programs. With education and safety being a priority, I should be allowed to play tackle football this year or in middle school. Hopefully my mom and dad read this article and finally allow me to play tackle football, and if they still won’t let me play, I will play flag football.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ben Rayhorn, 10, is a fourth-grade student at Graveraet Elementary School. He is passionat about sports, especially football, and he’d like to be an NFL player when he’s older. His favorite team is the Seattle Seahawks.