American Youth Football (AYF), established in 1996, is an international organization that promotes the development of youth through their association with adult leaders in American football. Rules and regulations ensure players are in a safe environment with a competitive balance between teams. The National Football League (NFL) has made AYF a national youth football partner.The President of American Youth Football is Joe Galat.
AYF allows local members to govern themselves while remaining non-intrusive. AYF has reached all 50 United States and six countries with more than 500,000 participants. AYF admits participants regardless of financial capabilities.AYF programs range from financial grants to leagues which need help, shoes sponsored by Nike, field development in conjunction with FieldTurf, and Rising Stars football camps, which send inner-city kids.
Former NFL players involved with American Youth Football include Randy Moss,Tedy Bruschi, Adam Archuleta, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, and Braylon Edwards, in addition to NFL coach Pete Carroll and TV personality and former NFL player Cris Collinsworth.
Similarly to other national youth football programs, American Youth Football requires its participants to perform adequately in the classroom before permitting them to play. Proof of satisfactory progress in school is required. American Youth Football participants who excels in the classroom are eligible for special awards and scholarships.
A 2018 study performed by the VA Boston Healthcare System and Boston University's school of medicine found that tackle football before age 12 was correlated with earlier onset of symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), but not with symptom severity. The study looked at 246 former players, with 211 being diagnosed with CTE after death. Of those so diagnosed, the athletes who started tackle football before age 12 displayed their symptoms an average of 13 years earlier than did other players. More specifically, each year a player played tackle football under 12 predicted earlier onset of cognitive problems, behavioral, and mood problems by an average of two and a half years.
In an Austin American-Statesman article, Dr. Michael Reardon of Child Neurology Consultants of Austin states that football includes repetitive blows to the head over time which might explain a higher level of impairment than athletes in basketball, cheerleading or volleyball, who can also experience the occasional concussion. Reardon states that in elementary-age football there can be significant size differences and some players do not have fully developed neck and shoulder muscles to help absorb hits. Reardon further says that a helmet does little beyond preventing a skull fracture and may in fact lead to a false sense of security and/or invincibility.
In an ESPN interview, Dr. Ann McKee, director of Boston University's Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center, went beyond her role as merely describing the study as one of the co-authors and suggested that, "Some argue that players should play even later than 12, maybe 18, when they are adults and can make fully informed decisions."
In early 2018, former NFL linebackers Nick Buoniconti (Patriots and Dolphins), Phil Villapiano (Raiders and Bills), and Harry Carson (New York Giants) announced that they were working with the Concussion Legacy Foundation in support of a new parent education initiative, Flag Football Under 14.
There are eight AYF regions:
Charles Aaron "Bubba" Smith was an American professional football player, who starred as a defensive end in both college and the NFL before becoming an actor following his retirement from the sport.
Christopher John Nowinski is a former American professional wrestler with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), subsequently author, co-founder and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, co-founder of the Boston University CTE Center.
Michael Lewis Webster was an American professional football player who was a center in the National Football League (NFL) from 1974 to 1990 with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, class of 1997. Nicknamed "Iron Mike", Webster anchored the Steelers' offensive line during much of their run of four Super Bowl victories from 1974 to 1979 and is considered by many as the greatest center in NFL history.
Pop Warner Little Scholars, commonly known simply as Pop Warner, is a nonprofit organization that provides activities such as American football, for over 425,000 youths aged 5 to 16 years old, in several nations. It is the largest youth football organization in the United States. In the 2010s, concern grew about the dangers of brain injury, including that from repeated sub-concussive hits. There have been proposals to replace tackle football with flag football below certain ages.
David Russell Duerson was an American football safety who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 11 seasons, primarily with the Chicago Bears. As a member of the Bears, he was selected to four consecutive Pro Bowls from 1985 to 1988 and was part of the 1985 defense that won the franchise's first Super Bowl in Super Bowl XX. He also played for the New York Giants and Phoenix Cardinals, winning Super Bowl XXV with the former.
Harry Donald Carson is a former American football inside linebacker who played his entire professional career for the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL). Carson was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
Forrest Murrell Blue Jr. was an offensive lineman who spent eleven seasons in the National Football League (NFL) with the San Francisco 49ers (1968–1974) and Baltimore Colts (1975–1978).
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disease linked to repeated blows to the head. The encephalopathy symptoms can include behavioral problems, mood problems, and problems with thinking. The disease often gets worse over time and can result in dementia. It is unclear if the risk of suicide is altered.
High school football is gridiron football played by high school teams in the United States and Canada. It ranks among the most popular interscholastic sports in both countries, but its popularity is declining. According to the Washington Post, between 2009 and 2019, participation in high school football has declined by 9%.
Andre Maurice Waters was an American football safety who played for the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League (NFL) from 1984 to 1995. Waters was regarded as one of the NFL's hardest-hitting defenders, serving as an integral part of one of the league's top defenses. On November 20, 2006, Waters committed suicide and was subsequently diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Paul Kevin Turner was a professional American football fullback. He played eight seasons in the National Football League for the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. Turner died after a multi-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which had been triggered by chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Thomas McHale was an American football player. He played professionally as an offensive guard in the National Football League (NFL) with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1987–1992), Philadelphia Eagles (1993–1994) and Miami Dolphins (1995). Born in Gaithersburg, Maryland, he attended Gaithersburg High School and then Wyoming Seminary in Kingston, Pennsylvania before playing college football at Maryland (1983) and Cornell (1986), graduating from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. Playing as a defensive end, he was named all-Ivy League and first team All-American in 1986, and was runner-up for Ivy League Player of the Year. He was named to the Cornell Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993.
Bennet Ifeakandu Omalu is a Nigerian-American physician, forensic pathologist and neuropathologist who was the first to discover and publish findings on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in American football players while working at the Allegheny County coroner's office in Pittsburgh. He later became the chief medical examiner for San Joaquin County, California, and is a professor at the University of California, Davis, department of medical pathology and laboratory medicine.
Concussions and other types of repetitive play-related head blows in American football have been shown to be the cause of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which has led to player deaths and other debilitating symptoms after retirement, including memory loss, depression, anxiety, headaches, and sleep disturbances.
Concussions, a type of mild traumatic brain injury, are a frequent concern for those playing sports, from children and teenagers to professional athletes. Repeated concussions are a known cause of various neurological disorders, most notably chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which in professional athletes has led to premature retirement, erratic behavior and even suicide. In the context of sports-related concussions (SRC), an SRC is currently defined as a "complex pathophysiological process affecting the brain, induced by biomechanical forces". Because concussions cannot be seen on X-rays or CT scans, attempts to prevent concussions have been difficult.
Ann McKee is a neuropathologist and expert in neurodegenerative disease at New England Veterans Administration Medical Centers (VISN-1) and is Professor of Neurology and Pathology at Boston University School of Medicine and Director of Boston University CTE Center. She is particularly known for her work studying Alzheimer's disease and the consequences of repetitive traumatic brain injury. In 2017, she was named Bostonian of the Year by The Boston Globe for her leading work in this area, and in 2018, Time named McKee one of its 100 most influential people.
Concussion is a 2015 American biographical sports drama film written and directed by Peter Landesman, based on the exposé "Game Brain" by Jeanne Marie Laskas, published in 2009 by GQ magazine. Set in 2002, the film stars Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist who fights against the National Football League trying to suppress his research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) brain degeneration suffered by professional football players.
Joseph Maroon is an American neurosurgeon, author, and triathlon athlete. He is the professor and vice chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and is the current medical director of WWE. He is particularly known for his work studying concussions and concussion prevention as well as his hypothesis on the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
The Boston University CTE Center is an independently run medical research lab located at the Boston University School of Medicine. The Center focuses on research related to the long-term effects of brain trauma and degenerative brain diseases, specializing in the diagnosis and analysis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). According to researchers at Boston University, CTE is a brain disease involving progressive neurological deterioration common in athletes, military personnel, and others who have a history of brain trauma. The disease is primarily caused by repeated blows to the head, some of which result in concussions or sub-concussive symptoms.
Most documented cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy have occurred in athletes involved in contact sports such as boxing, American football, wrestling, ice hockey, mixed martial arts, rugby and soccer. Other risk factors include being in the military, prior domestic violence, and repeated banging of the head. The exact amount of trauma required for the condition to occur is unknown. Below is a list of notable cases of CTE in sports.