Professor Abrams: Youth Football is Not Child Abuse

Forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu’s diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has triggered closer study of head injuries in football. Dr. Omalu, the subject of the movie Concussion, now says that no youth under 18 should play the sport.

“Letting kids play football,” he says, “Is the definition of child abuse…. Someday there will be a district attorney who will prosecute for child abuse [in youth football] and it will succeed.”

An article written by Brooke de Lench, executive director of MomsTeam Institute of Youth Sports Safety, a prominent national health and safety advocate in football and other youth sports, counters Dr. Omalu’s invitation to invoke child abuse laws.

This article quotes Professor Doug Abrams, who writes often about legal and safety issues in youth sports. He says, “There is no room for prosecuting parents merely for allowing their child to play youth-league or school football…. The Constitution guarantees parents broad discretion to raise their children, so the law requires a strong showing to defeat parental decision-making. Football safety concerns are real and safety advocates should continue to speak out to educate, but parents commit no crime when they decide to allow their child to play the nation’s most popular professional and amateur sport.”