In the wake of this week’s shocking revelation regarding the autopsy of former Steelers linebacker Adrian Robinson—which showed that a degenerative brain condition, the probable result of concussions suffered as a player, may have led him to commit suicide at the age of 25—the NFL is once again on the defensive about player safety. And it’s the next generation of players that the league may be most concerned about: New research from healthcare insights company Treato shows that parents are becoming increasingly concerned about the risk of sports-related concussions—and 51 percent of parents surveyed would like at least some sports programs eliminated from schools.
The firm’s survey of more than 500 Treato.com users revealed that 91 percent of survey participants who identified as parents are aware of the link between playing sports and lifelong brain injuries.
Football topped the list of school sports parents would like to eliminate, as 41 percent parents said it should no longer be played in schools. Hockey took the number two spot with 21 percent of parents saying it should be eliminated from schools. When asked if they would let their own child play a high-impact sport, 41 of parents surveyed said they would not.
A more in-depth analysis by Treato of more than 126,000 online conversations found that parents’ attitudes are reflective of the increase in sports-related concussion conversations happening online. Over the past ten years, there has been a 230-percent increase in online patient conversations about concussions and sports, as well as a 79-percent increase in the share of sports-related conversations out of all concussion conversations. Discussions about children are dominating online conversations as 64 percent of online conversations about concussions are about patients under the age of 18. In addition, 25 percent of online conversations happening about concussions and the emergency room also mention children.
Given all the recent media attention about the NFL and concussions, Treato also surveyed its users on their opinions about professional football—revealing that 69 percent of survey participants felt that the NFL isn’t doing enough to protect its players from the long-term effects of concussions. In addition, 60 percent of survey participants felt NFL players should be compensated for concussions that they endured while playing for the league. Fans are also active in online conversations discussing the effects of the game, as frequently topics being discussed in relation to concussions and the NFL are Alzheimer’s and suicide.
“Through our data analysis, it became clear that consumer attitudes, particularly among parents, towards youth sports are rapidly changing,” said Ido Hadari, CEO of Treato, in a news release. “As more medical research becomes available about the lifelong effects of traumatic head injuries, parents are thinking twice about which school sports teams to sign their kids up for, and as the online conversation gains momentum, changes in school sports programs in the coming future may be imminent.”