Youth tackle football is linked to earlier symptoms of the degenerative brain disease CTE

The new report is confirmation of what was already feared amongst many parents and by neurologists studying the connections between football and brain injury.

Kahron Spearman

According to a new study published in the Annals of Neurology on Monday, players who played tackle football before the age of 12 exhibited symptoms related to chronic traumatic encephalopathy - 13 years earlier than other players on average.


Completed by the VA Boston Healthcare System and Boston University's school of medicine, the study showed that in 211 players diagnosed with CTE after death, those who participated in tackle football before age 12 suffered from cognitive, behavioral and mood symptoms earlier.

It shows the health of the brain was changed by playing football before the age of 12. Some argue that players should play even later than 12, maybe 18, when they are adults and can make fully informed decisions.

Dr. Ann McKee
Director, Boston University's Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center

Per the study which included 246 former players, 211 of whom were diagnosed with CTE after death every year a player played tackle football under that age foretold the early onset of cognitive problems by 2.4 years, and behavioral and mood issues by 2.5 years.


The study's finding will likely push the support for youth football, which would eventually change the game at the higher levels.