Say hello to Sam Gordon, the latest viral star in sports. Highlights of the nine-year-old flying past defenders on the way to the end zone have attracted nearly 2 million views on Youtube. The pee-wee player has run for 1,911 yards, is averaging 8.2 yards per carry, and has scored 35 touchdowns.
And Sam, by the way, is a girl.
Impressive. But in this era of concerns about concussions, on all levels of football, this video raises some concerns. Towards the end, the clip shows highlights of Gordon “taking a hit.” Some of them are quite jarring. In his new book, Concussions and Our Kids: America’s Leading Expert On How To Keep Sports Safe And Protect Young Athletes, Dr. Robert Cantu – a pioneering concussion researcher — proposes that tackle football be outlawed for children under age 14. Their brains may not be equipped to handle the pummeling.
In some ways, this clip is an advertisement for the benefits of youth football. Look at her go! Without youth tackle football, there might not be a Sam Gordon.
(MORE: Why Kids Under 14 Should Not Play Tackle Football)
At the same time, studies have shown that girls have higher concussions rates than boys playing the same sport. And Gordon, who carries the ball so much, is at greater risk of injury. When asked about the violent hits, Sam’s father, Brent, told Yahoo! Sports:
I started her out in soccer at 4 years old and we would play out in the yard,” Brent explains. “And my son’s friends were pretty aggressive and rough. She could really handle a lot of the physical play. There were some games where she’d fall down and just keep going. She would get kicked in the face, kicked in the gut and just keep going.
Well, let’s hope Sam keeps running past the boys, so she can avoid the hits.