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Note: The following is the weekly Reach Roundup newsletter from September 13, 2018.

Reach: Tackle Football

As school starts again, high school and college football programs are kicking off new seasons. Last week, we asked our users to weigh in on the safety of tackle football. We heard from folks across the spectrum — some who think tackle football should be banned altogether regardless of age, and others who believe the sport can still be taught safely if taught correctly. If you didn’t get a chance to weigh in, or have other thoughts, I’d love to hear from you. Just reply directly to this email.

The connection between youth tackle football and brain damage was documented in a 2017 study of 214 former football players, including those who only played in high school, as well as college and professional. The study found that playing tackle football before the age of 12 increased the chances of problems with behavioral regulation, apathy, and executive functioning later in life by twofold, and the odds of suffering symptoms of depression threefold. These risks held even for those who didn’t play tackle football past high school.

Yet football remains the number one participatory sport for boys in high school, with almost 1.1 million high school boys participating in tackle football in 2016-2017. While this number is down about 25,000 players from the previous year, that decrease amounts to less than two fewer players per school. For some communities, filling the stadium on Friday night and cheering on the home team is woven into the fabric of their culture. For others, the increasing research around the long-term health risks of tackle football are enough to steer them and their children away from the sport.

Now for our next question of the week. With the approach of Hurricane Florence, evacuations are underway and school districts are announcing closures. We want to hear about your previous experiences with severe weather in North Carolina. Weigh in here, and stay safe.

Throughout the storm, you can find information and send us updates by texting FLORENCE to 73224.

What you told us about tackle football:

For a closer look at the results of this survey, click here.


Five Facts:

$29,950 per coach
The median high school football coach in N.C. gets paid $29,950 annually.

111 new coaches
In the 2016-17 season, N.C. saw 111 coaching changes in just over 400 high school football programs. That number was just 48 in the 2008-09 season. It’s the first time N.C. had over 100 coaching changes since 2008.

2.2% decrease
From 2014-15 to 2016-17, football participation in N.C. decreased by 2.2 percent. Many other sports saw an increase in participation during that time span.

Doubled and tripled risk
Boston University study found that youth tackle football doubled the risk of behavioral problems and tripled the risk of depression.

2nd in popularity
In 2016-17, outdoor track and field overtook football as the most popular high school sport. Nationwide, high school football still had over 1 million students on the field last year.

Our Picks:

The Real Cost of Youth Sports | Forbes – 9/6/2018

All sports involve some risk, but youth sports organizations should place a premium on children’s health and eliminate the most obvious dangers to children’s safety such as brain trauma. Our understanding of brain trauma in youth sports and its potential short and long term health repercussions has evolved over the past decade and a half based on a growing body of research and scientific evidence.

Keep Reading

The N.F.L. Struggles to Tackle Its Latest Problem: Tackling | The New York Times – 9/6/2018

Alarmed by rising concussion rates and the lasting effects of repeated hits to the head, the N.F.L. adopted a new rule — 49 indistinct words — prohibiting any player from lowering his head to make contact with an opponent.

Put simply, it outlawed using the helmet as a weapon. And it applies to everyone, including the running back digging in for the extra yard and the lineman bowing to prevent it.

Keep Reading

Question of the Week:

Travel Notes:

Here’s where our team has been this week.

– On Tuesday, Mebane Rash visited Stanly Community College in Albemarle, N.C.

– On Wednesday, Nation Hahn and Bryan Noreen visited South Piedmont Community College in Polkton, N.C.

On Tuesday, EducationNC made the final stop on our blitz of all 58 community colleges at Stanly Community College. Mebane Rash/EducationNC

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Reach NC Voices Team

The Reach NC Voices team includes Nation Hahn, director of growth for EdNC; Molly Osborne, director of policy; Analisa Sorrells, chief of staff and associate director of policy; and Alli Lindenberg, engagement specialist.