The sport’s level of physical risk is different, too. According to the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, football has the highest injury and concussion rates of any high school sport; the Healthy Sport Index, a data-driven online tool developed by the Aspen Institute that compares 10 youth sports, ranks football last in terms of athlete safety
“Those concerns have always been there, but over my career, they certainly have increased,” Trivers said. “When you start talking about head injuries, it has trickled down from the NFL. And I think the way things have been emphasized and portrayed in the media has made for a different level of questioning for families and parents wondering what sports they should get their kids involved in.”
Nathan Stiles, who died in 2010 at age 17 of a brain injury
following a high school football game, subsequently became the youngest person to be diagnosed with CTE. Two years ago, Boston University researchers reported that they had found the disease in the brains of 110 of 111 former NFL players, 48 of 53 former college players, and three of 14 former high school players
they posthumously examined. Meanwhile, researchers from Purdue University have found that both concussions and subconcussive blows can cause damage and changes to the brains
of high school football players.
In 2016, a University of Massachusetts survey found
that 65% of the public considers sports concussions and head injuries to be a major problem; that 87% believe that CTE is a serious public health issue; and that 48% think the statement that “tackle football is a safe activity for children during high school” is either certainly or probably false.