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The Boston Globe

Opinion

Derrick Z. Jackson

Mass. leading a retreat from youth football

Football has officially begun its slow but sure decline, sliding toward the disdain we now hold for boxing. Super Bowls, national collegiate championships, and Friday night lights in Texas are not disappearing anytime soon. But we are heading inexorably down the path where the only people left playing the sport will be the poor.

Youth football participation is dropping as never before, amid dramatic discoveries of irreversible brain damage, premature deaths, and suicides in former professional superstars. Even as a massive concussion lawsuit was settled between former players and the National Football League, retired stars increasingly say they would not let their boys play football. This week, ex-Packers great Brett Favre, only 44, told NBC’s “Today Show” he already has major memory lapses, such as forgetting his youngest daughter ever played soccer. He said if he had a son, he would be “real leery” of letting him play football.

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