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If You Want Your Kid to Think Good, Don’t Let Them Play Football Before Age 12

The good, the bad and the ugly things we learned about our bodies today

Football is kinda fucked, isn’t it? We’ve known for a while now that letting your kids play football before their brains have had a chance to fully develop heightens their chances of being diagnosed later in life with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (or CTE), which has been linked to dementia, ALS and even suicide.

But in case that wasn’t enough to scare you off of signing them up for Pop Warner, a new study published in Translational Psychiatry has found that children who play football before the age of 12 are more likely to become depressed, as well as develop cognitive issues by age 50:

“Players who started earlier than age 12 were twice as likely to have ‘clinically meaningful impairments in reported behavioral regulation, apathy and executive function’ and were more than three times as likely to have clinically elevated depression scores.”

Because a child’s brain is still developing, repeated impacts — even impacts that don’t cause concussions — can permanently alter how neurological pathways form and then set, which lead to these impairments later in life.

Basically, don’t turn your kid’s brain to mush before they decide for themselves if they want to turn their brains to mush. That’s what freshman year of college is for anyway.

A few of the other things we learned about our bodies today: