A new study on the dangers of football might give pause to parents in pee-wee leagues. Researchers say that, relatively speaking, the hits absorbed by kids as young as 7 have the same impact as those delivered by teens and adults on their own peers, reports the New York Times. What's more, the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest study found that kids in youth leagues take a lot of hits, with most coming during practice. “The number of hits and magnitude was a lot higher than people would have estimated," says one of the researchers. "When we present it to the parents, everyone is surprised.”
As a rough estimate among 7- and 8-year-olds, figure nine hits per practice and 11 per game. None of the 19 boys in the study got concussions, but some of the hits were at a level (80g of force) that presents a high risk. The researchers say the results suggest that youth football leagues should ease up on physical contact in practices. In western New York, meanwhile, a high school team has canceled the remainder of its varsity season after one of its players sustained a head injury during a game and died a few days later. NPR has a radio interview with the Buffalo News reporter covering the incident involving the Westfield-Brocton team.