Parent blog: Should I let my kid play tackle football?

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My 6-year-old son William loves sports. He currently swims, plays soccer and also flag football.

This boy lives and breathes sports. 

I know which room he's been in because the TV is turned to ESPN. 

Every surface he walks on is an imaginary sports arena. Our family room is a football field and soccer stadium. The couch acts as "other players" and, in his mind, I'm always ready for a pass - whether I'm looking or not. Ouch

Will even recently brought home an "All About Drew Brees" library book to study up on his moves. There's no argument -- this boy loves sports.

Will is about to enter his third season playing flag football. To say he loves it would be the ultimate understatement. I'm lucky enough to help coach and watch him develop as an athlete from the sidelines. See it for yourself - the kid has some moves.

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The option to play really isn't an option – at least to my son. He's all in and wants to continue. It's a fantastic team building sport and the scheduling is great. The commitment is two hours per week -total!

Any busy parent will appreciate that. I'm thrilled to see "bigger" kids playing flag football. They have teen tournaments and even adult leagues. 

So, the option to continue as a flag player is there. But, Will is fascinated by the NFL.  I am mentally preparing myself for the moment when he asks me to play tackle football.  

I've seen the research. We've done countless stories on Local 4 on the lasting impacts hard hits can have on your body. Concussions are a major concern for me...not to mention all of the other injuries that come with tackle football.

So, why the debate? I worry I’m standing in the way of my son doing something he loves. Something he could be good at. Where do we draw the line?  

It’s a debate parents constantly have with ourselves and our spouse.  I don’t know when – or how – we’ll decide Will’s football future.  

For now, I’m hoping the research into concussion prevention is moving as fast as Will on a touchdown run.

This week, Virginia Tech researchers released new safety ratings for youth helmets. It’s based on their studies of head impacts. According to the new research, seven models earned the highest rating of five stars. The others earned three or four stars.

The helmets went through 48 tests (using dummies) and covered four impact locations on three speeds.

The lower-rated helmets had front pads that were too stiff. You can see the entire study here.

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