Recently, S.L. Price wrote for Sports Illustrated about Nick Buoniconti, one of the great defenders on the Miami Dolphins’ 1972 undefeated Super Bowl championship team, and how his health has deteriorated.
It is mentioned in the article, “The Complicated Decline of Nick Buoniconti,” that many Miami Dolphins from the 1972 Super Bowl team have declining health due to football.
"S.L. Price wrote, “Quarterback Earl Morrall, the supersub so key to the Perfect Season, died at 79, in 2014, with Stage 4 CTE. Running back Jim Kiick, 70, lived in squalor until he was placed in an assisted living facility last summer with dementia/early onset Alzheimer’s. Bill Stanfill, a defensive end who long suffered from dementia, died in November at 69.”"
It can be concluded football is negatively affecting many former Dolphins’ mental health, especially Buoniconti.
Nick Buoniconti was the middle linebacker for the Miami Dolphins from 1969 to 1976 with two Super Bowl rings. He was also a co-host on the show, Inside the NFL, from 1980 to 2001 where he explained the nuances of the game, articulated his opinions, and interviewed many of the greats from the game.
Today, Buoniconti’s health is failing fast, and in the article written by Price, Buoniconti says, “I feel lost. I feel like a child.” This sad story of Nick Buoniconti leads to an important question for parents.
Should we allow our children to play tackle football?
The upside to football is fortune, fame and glory. However, many people do not see the suffering many football players endure years after the game. Scientific studies, movies and articles are enlightening the public on this issue.
The evidence and research show concussions and repeated blows to the head lead to CTE, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease.
Players know the risks today. They are willing to trade the pain, the years of their life and possible CTE in the future for the money to help their family for generations. An adult can understand that tradeoff and make that decision. A child cannot.
Parents should not be allowed to let their children play little league tackle football. A child could receive multiple hits to the head during a season and could suffer from some form of brain damage for the rest of his life. No parent wants this for their child.
Are there any advantages for a child to play tackle football before high school?
No. A child should not play tackle football, but instead should play flag football. Flag football will teach the child the basics of the game without experiencing the unnecessary hits to the head.
Children in elementary and middle school do not need to experience tackle football. There is no correlation between being a successful player at the age of 8 and making it into the NFL.
Miami Dolphin fans can look no further than their latest first round pick, Charles Harris. He did not start playing tackle football until his junior year in high school. Harris still received a scholarship from a Division I college football program. Plus, he will receive a contract around $10 million from the Dolphins.
Football is an entertaining game, but extremely dangerous to the players. Parents must inform their children as they enter high school about the dangers of playing tackle football and allow their kids to make the decision to play or not as they move toward adulthood. But before that time, parents should make a responsible adult decision and not allow their children to play tackle football.