Changes to Super Bowl Sunday after concussion concerns

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - On Super Bowl Sunday, there will be several changes at the game in New Orleans because of a growing concern about the long-term effects of concussions.
          
It's not just the NFL that is making changes. So are parents, who are now asking themselves, "Should I let my young son play football?"

Excited fans will be watching Sunday's game and, this year, so will extra cameras. They will be in the media box to help team physicians spot any signs of concussions on the field.

There is a growing anxiety about head injuries from those both inside and outside of the collision sport -- from former NFL players like Terry Bradshaw, who said he would not let his son play, to President Obama who just this week said that if he had a son, he would have to think long and hard about letting him play football.

The growing concern is why local mom Dawn Basch said she is glad it is basketball season.

"Not as worried about the head injuries," Basch said. "There just don't seem to be as many with basketball."

She, like a growing number of parents, is opting to keep her kids out of tackle football.

In his new book Concussion and Our Kids, Dr. Robert Cantu, chief of neurosurgery at Emerson Hospital, suggested no child should play tackle football until age 14. Until then, Cantu said, children are vulnerable to concussions because of their growing brains and bodies.
        
The regional director of i9 Sports, named one of America's fastest growing youth sports companies, said flag football can fully prepare a child for high school football.

"As far as preparing a kid for high school football ... that's something you can do through flag just as easy as you could through tackle," director Terry Reuter said.

Some tackle youth programs are now reducing contact during practices.

Still, football remains incredibly popular. In a recent poll, 67 percent of Americans said they would still let their sons play football.
         
Studies on former NFL players have shown professional football can be dangerous to one's brain. However, when it comes to kids, Mayo Clinic has said there is little evidence to show a link.
       
A Mayo study that studied men who had played high school football showed no higher incidents of dementia, Parkinson's or Lou Gehrig's disease than their non-playing classmates.
        
On Sunday, look for iPads on the Super Bowl sidelines. They will allow doctors to conduct a concussion test on the spot.

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