Forty percent of Americans would encourage their children to play sports other than football because of concerns about concussions, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Friday.
According to the survey, there is a sharp contrast based on household income between those who worry about football and those without concerns. Nearly half of the respondents making the highest incomes (more than $75,000 per year), said that they don’t want their children playing football because of concussion concerns, while only 28 percent of respondents with the lowest income levels (less than $30,000 per year) shared that view. Overall, 57 percent of Americans who were surveyed said that they would have no problem letting their child play football.
Concerns about concussions and the potential for brain injury from football has grown in recent years. Last year, the NFL reached a $765 million settlement in a lawsuit brought by thousands of retired players, many of whom suffer from concussion-related injures. Two weeks ago, a federal judge denied approval of the settlement, saying it may not be enough to cover 20,000 retired players. In addition to the lawsuit, several high-profile former players, including hard-hitting Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, have come forward in recent years to discuss the toll football has taken on their health. Duerson committed suicide in 2011 by shooting himself in the chest so that his brain could be studied, and researchers found he suffered from degenerative brain disease. In 2012, retired all-pro linebakcer Junior Seau killed himself the same way; he was also found to have suffered from brain disease.
The new poll also asked about the NFL’s efforts to prevent concussions. Forty-one percent said that they feel the NFL has taken meaningful action to reduce the number of concussions – a number that includes 59 percent of respondents who say they follow pro football closely. Twenty percent said that the NFL has not done enough. The NFL points to a 13-percent drop in concussions as evidence that rule changes and increased awareness are working.