'Exodus' from American football teams as concussion fears grow
Parents are pulling their children out of youth American football teams due to serious concerns that long-term brain damage may be caused by blows to the head during tackles.
Pop Warner, the country's largest junior football organisation, suffered a 9.5pc drop in participation between 2010 and 2012, according to leaked membership figures.
The decline in numbers in the league, which has been running since 1929 and launched the careers of the majority of professional players, follows years of healthy growth to 250,000 members by 2010.
Dr Julian Bailes, the organisation's chief medical adviser, has said fears about concussions and more serious long-term head injuries are the "number one" reason for the exodus from the sport.
"We are trying to look at many things to make the sport safer," said Dr Bailes, an expert in neurological medicine who is based in Chicago, where his 10-year-old son Clint plays the sport.
"We want to continue to preserve football's popularity and its enjoyment and benefits for players and their families and parents and coaches, so we're working to make the game safer," he said.
The decline in youth league numbers follows a high-profile crisis in the NFL, the game's premier league, after dozens of former players were found to have suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a dementia-linked brain condition that can be caused by multiple concussions. (© Daily Telegraph, London)