DENVER — The long-term effects of concussions have become a popular topic around the country. Current and former NFL players are speaking out, and there was a movie “Concussion” recently released.
Sports-related brain damage is not confined to just football; however, a growing number of parents are switching from tackle football to flag football.
I9 Sports, a national youth sports league, has seen a 12 percent increase nationwide in flag football participation. In Colorado, numbers are up 20 percent this year, the biggest jump since the company’s inception.
Greg Zborowski is a youth football coach, with two sons who compete in the sport. In years past, he was a tackle football coach, but after growing concerns of concussions, he has moved himself and his sons into flag football.
“Every time one of them took a hit for a second there I’m like I’m done I’m getting him off the field,” he said. “The parent in me kicked in and all of that fear crept in.”
Zborowski said it wasn’t a popular decision with his sons at first, but he believes it is best for their future.
“Whether he’s having fun or not, am I setting him up for failure later in life?” he said. “Or what damage is being done that I don’t know about or nobody knows about until he gets older?”
Zborowski said more families are making the switch to flag football because of the concern over concussions.
“It has tripled, if not more, in size in every league that we’ve played in,” he said. “I think all the parents and other coaches I work with say the same thing about tackle. It isn’t time yet with the kids. They haven’t grown into their bodies, they don’t trust the sport, or handing the health of their kids brain over to a league that’s not doing enough to protect the kids.”
So for now, Zborowski said its flag football. And as for the future, they’ll tackle that decision later in life.
“We’ve talked to professional coaches, I’ve heard lectures on it, and even professional athletes and football today most of them always say the bench mark is 14-15 years old,” he said.
I9 Sports has implemented a “when in doubt, sit them out” policy on possible concussions for all sports and a ban on heading in their soccer programs.