MENTOR, Ohio — The Concussion Legacy Foundation released a public service announcement that has parents and youth football coaches asking for an instant replay.
The 35-second video titled "Tackle Can Wait" begins with children playing tackle football, and it quickly takes an interesting turn. Young players are handed cigarettes by their coach, and the PSA then compares injuries sustained during tackle football to lung cancer caused by smoking tobacco.
A longtime coach was shocked after watching the video.
"Comparing it to smoking I think is a huge jump," coach Shawn Van Huss said. "In fact, I think it’s a little bit laughable."
The campaign, led by two women whose fathers both died from the brain disease CTE, urges parents to take a time-out and refrain from enrolling their children in tackle football until they are at least 14 years old.
However, coaches believe equipment enhancements, restrictions and research on concussion protocol in the last decade have made the game safer.
"We're not putting kids in situations every day in practice where they’re going head to head with kids," Art Moore said. "It's not Friday Night Tikes, you know, the TV show."
But Research from Boston University shows it's not solely concussions that cause CTE, but repeated small hits to the head.
Coaches say players and staff undergo extensive training which teaches young players correct tackle form to prevent injuries.
"All of our coaches are ‘Heads Up’ certified and we put all our kids through the ‘Heads Up’ program early in the season teaching them to tackle the right way," Moore said.
John Van Huss is an eight-year-old wide receiver who says he doesn't want to wait six more years to play his favorite sport.
"We have to put our shoulders into your hip and then we need to get low and then finish them," John said.
In a written statement, the concussion legacy foundations CEO says waiting to put on the pads and helmet until after a child turns 14 could potentially prevent more than 50% of future CTE cases.