The dangers of playing football, at any level, have been well documented.
And unfortunately for football players, at this point the science is well ahead of the solution. No one knows exactly how to deal with the issue, so people have tried many different things: fewer practices, better helmets, new techniques, etc. And now, one New Hampshire school board member and retired physician is proposing perhaps the most radical solution yet: Banning football.
Dr. Paul Butler on Monday argued in front of the Dover school board that football is too dangerous for young children and concussions can have serious side effects later in life. He suggested that for the health of children and adolescents, the Dover schools ban the sport at all levels.
"The literature on head injuries in football is getting increasingly clear," said Butler, who played high school and Division III football himself. "The game is dangerous for our brains."
Dr. Butler pointed to the copious literature linking football to concussions, and reiterated his belief that one day football will be viewed in the same light as smoking, seat belts and bike helmets.
"Those are no-brainers now," Butler said. "and I think someday not playing football will be a no-brainer also."
Butler's proposal was met with cynicism by Dover's athletic director, Peter Wotton.
"I don’t think it’s necessary to scrap football at all," Wotton said. "We have safety nets in place."
The ban proposed by Butler will be discussed at a school board meeting in November. After news of the proposal went viral, the school board released a statement clarifying its position:
A story about dropping football from Dover High School has caused quite a stir in our community, and it seems the entire seacoast," said school board Chair Rocky D'Andrea. "We need to be clear that the comments from Dr. Butler were his reaction to various studies he has read not the opinion of the Dover School Board. Termination of the DHS football program has not come before the board and is not on any agenda at this time. Dr. Butler's opinion was brought as a matter of interest only during our Oct. 1st meeting.