Parents wary of football-related concussions, new poll shows - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Parents wary of football-related concussions, new poll shows

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Many kids dream of being in the NFL, especially with the big showdown coming up on Sunday, but parents are worried about the safety of the sport.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows 40 percent of American adults would rather have their child play any sport other than football, due to concussion concerns.

André Lessears is president of the Dubuque Independent Football League. Two of his boys and one of his girls have played football with his league, so he knows the importance of safety.

"It's paramount," he said Friday afternoon in his office.

The DIFL has about 900 first-through-sixth-graders from throughout the tri-state area playing tackle football.

"We partner with the Dubuque fire department to hold concussion protocol tests for all coaches, every year," Lessears said. "We take coaches through a two-hour seminar on how to recognize concussions, how to prevent concussions, how to run drills properly so that you're putting your players in the best situation."

He said the DIFL has heard from parents over the past few years on the topic of concussions but that officials assure them safety is the league's top priority.

Medical experts say, a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head or other jarring of the brain. Some victims will have obvious symptoms, such as passing out, but others won't. Recovery can span from a few hours to, in rare cases, lifelong brain damage.

Increased public awareness about concussions has prompted policy changes statewide, including at the Dubuque Community School District.

As a dad and Dubuque Senior High School's athletic director, Brent Cook puts student safety at the top of his roster.

"The Legislature passed a new law that all of our head coaches have to view a mandatory concussion video," Cook said. "On top of that, the Dubuque Community School District decided this year to start ImPACT Testing, and that's an online tool that our trainers use, and we screen all of our athletes before their seasons begin."

Both Cook and Lessears said they've seen public awareness of football-related concussions sky-rocket in the last three-or-so years.

Despite the concussion concerns of 40 percent of respondents in the new poll, 57 percent said they would be just fine with their children playing organized football.

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