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Football should be banned as an organized sport for high school students

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/28/2013 Category: Sports
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 16,505 times Debate No: 39555
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (1)
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Football causes serious head damage in high school students and even in NFL players. The hits they take during practice and during the game damage their brain throughout the season and leads to a decrease in mental capacity down the road.

Deaths have also been caused by this sport in high a school students. According to American Journal of Sports Medicine, deaths can be caused by cardiac failure, brain injury, and heat illness, and there is an average of 12 deaths per year in high school and college football. I am aware that statistic includes college football, however, the fact that deaths occur is significant.

Seeing as football is not something necessary for educational purposes, the fact that it causes deaths and is causes head injuries in the rest of the players is enough for cancelation. However, with this in mind, we can look at some benefits of canceling football programs in high school.

The average salary of a football coach is $73,000, and school districts have spent up to $20 million per stadium for high school football. With that kind if money, a significant amount of educational clubs or extracurricular activities could be implemented in schools, which will increase learning abilities.

For example, not all schools have a debate team even if they have a football team. If you switch the two, there's a higher standard if education in the schools. Debate teaches you to think critically and analyze quickly. While football may increase a mentality like strategy, they're specific to the area of football.

Other areas like music are also important to education. According to Laura Lewis Brown of PBS, "Making music involves more than the voice or fingers playing an instrument; a child learning about music has to tap into multiple skill sets, often simultaneously. For instance, people use their ears and eyes, as well as large and small muscles, says Kenneth Guilmartin, cofounder of Music Together, an early childhood music development program for infants through kindergarteners that involves parents or caregivers in the classes."

Taking away money spent on football programs and giving it to other more educational areas may be part of what's needed to increase the educational standard in America. At any rate, the children that die in football and the positive alternatives to football is enough reason for banning football as an organized sort for high school students.


Hello, Storm. I accept your challenge and look forward to our debate!

While I concede that football remains a dangerous sport, I do not believe that it should be banned for high school students. All steps should be taken to ensure that we balance safety with the spirit of the game, and while current attention to the relationship between football and head trauma deserves merit, most of the sport"s very vocal critics do not in any way support a ban.

First, simply put, we don"t ban dangerous, voluntary activities. People die in car accidents, yet we don"t ban cars. High caloric meals from fast food restaurants can cause debilitating obesity. Even dangerous wildlife can pose a threat, but we don"t ban access to certain environments because those places could be harmful. This list is endless, but the similarity crucial. Voluntary activities that could be harmful to you tend not to be banned, and for good reason; we honor the freedom to participate, cherishing the idea that individual responsibility should come before governmental mandate. If you support the idea that a voluntary activity should be banned because it is potentially harmful, you have logically justified a rollback of many different potential activities and freedoms. The risk of death and injury, while important, isn"t enough to justify a ban on high school football.

Second, you are ignoring the benefits of football " teambuilding, camaraderie, trust, and of course, keeping in shape. So many people can participate in football because it is a dynamic game: some kick, some throw, some catch, some run, some block guys trying to tackle your guys. Sports like basketball, baseball, or soccer are not as dynamic, which is why these sports tend to have fewer players on the team.

Third, high school football exists because there is a demand. Adults and students alike enjoy the passion, suspense, and even the roughhousing. Even if you ban high school football, the demand will not die. People love the game, and it is not entirely inconceivable that this desire to play means that more people would participate in a lot of smaller, unofficial football games played in back lots and yards, which could be even more dangerous since the rules would be less strictly enforced and the students would not have access to safety equipment. If students want to play football, they will find a way.

Fourth, much of your post devotes itself to enumerating other activities that should be expanded or funded in light of ending football, but this plank of your argument simply isn"t topical. The question surrounds high school football, not whether other activities should be funded or how much, and you have not demonstrated that football specifically trades off with other activities. A debate team, for example, may not exist because there is little interest in the sport amongst students. I know this was true at least for my school at one point. Football programs are funded so much because they are popular: there are many spectators to entertain and many students who want to participate. Specifically, your resolution is not about whether we should fun artsy activities more.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for taking up my challenge Flipz. I believe this is going to be a good debate. You have some good points and I'd like to go down and try to make some clarifications and defenses.

I would first like to address the issue of danger. You are right that certain activities aren't banned even though they're dangerous. Actually interestingly enough fast food is starting to get hit especially in California, where toys in happy meals are banned taking the happy out of the meal. I would concede that certain activities however like driving are dangerous, although I would also say that it's somewhat necessary the way infrastructure in cities works. To expand on my point I also believe the degree of damage is significant. Teenagers don't have fully developed brains and their brains bounce around more when their head takes a hit. This actually causes more damage than in adults who participate in the NFL. Even things aside from head trauma, such as shoulder or knee injuries, from which the students may never recover. The bodies of people in high school are still developing, and constantly stunting such growth or damaging the body in day-to-day collisions in blistering heat can be detrimental. Occassionally heat stroke will happen, and schools without nice facilities where a student can be immediately helped have had students die.

I would also like to refute your point concerning the benefits of football. While you're right concerning the values learned in it, I would disagree with your discounting other sports as being beneficial in those areas. For example, soccer has a web of players that will function most effectively if all are used. In a sport like baseball or basketball quick thinking and selflessness are developed in order to work as a team as effectively as possible. All sports include a grounding in a hard work ethic. What these sports don't include is the bodily damage. While there is phsysicality in them, it's not part of the focus of the game.

Concerning your point on demand, it should be noted that demand of an object doesn't necessarily justify an object's promotion. Admittedly this is an extreme example, buts even if there was a higher demand for human sacrifices, it still wouldn't be legal. It is a good analogy however, seeing as these students are sacrificing their bodies and their minds to a good degree. Even though their participation is out of free will, although a lot of parents force their children to participate in football or make the student feel as if they should, it is still a high danger sport.

I will now address the relevancy of other activities. Cutting a football program saves schools up to millions of dollars. Now, while the topic is football, we have to examine the effects as well. The effects naturally is saving money that can either lower taxes or repurpose the money to the schools on a more beneficial way concerning education (as that should be a primary concern of the schools). I won't spend any more time on the issue since I've made my claim and warrant with it. I just wanted to clarify why I believe it's relevant.


Thank you for your reply, Storm. My argument proceeds as follows:

First, not all dangerous activities serve necessary economic and social roles; we don"t ban them because the freedom to participate is a kind of moral right. Mountain climbing or spelunking, for example, poses the risk of death or injury while hikers and explorers can encounter dangerous wildlife inhabiting undeveloped parts of the country. Activities entered voluntarily are a part of our body of freedoms and deserve continued protection because they develop self-definition and encourage the personal pursuit of happiness, whatever that may be. There are of course many illegal activities, but the vast majority of these activities are illegal precisely because they inherently pull in the participation of unwilling participants. This is not the case when it comes to high school football. If you believe that the potential harm of high school football alone suffices for its ban, then you have also implicitly justified an extraordinary encroachment on basic freedoms and established a precedent for governmental intrusion into a whole new range of personal conduct.

To your point about personal transportation: a solid public transportation infrastructure would eliminate the need for personal transportation, and even a few cities already have systems that could adequately replace personal transportation. We could even replace most of the cars with bikes for healthier lifestyles, less traffic, and a safer commute. We don"t ban cars, however, because we believe that free movement and personal choice for transportation is a quintessential liberty. The right to get away from the city and explore the countryside is just as important.

Second, concerning the benefits of football, I don"t think you have successfully refuted my original point. I readily conceded that other sports helped instill many positive values, but the more important plank of my argument concerned football"s dynamicism. Specifically, football needs all kinds of different players with all kinds of skill sets and no other sport demands the same diversity. For specifics, looks back at my original argument. Also, because football needs diversity, football teams allow more people to join than any other sport, which also means its positive values reach more people.

While yes, football can be more dangerous than other sports, I think at this point I should address your concerns about the nature of the harm. The first thing you should realize is that while injuries can be common, permanent and extreme injuries are rare. Death by heat stroke, for instance, is extremely rare and can happen to anyone who plays an outside activity. High school football injuries are tragic, especially because it can severely damage growing bodies and brains, but its participants remain aware of the risks and can quit anytime. Also, the number of deaths from car accidents and other legal activities far outpace deaths and sever injuries from high school football. While parents pressure some children to play the sport, cases of Billy Elliott are extremely rare; in fact, I"ve never met one. The vast majority of football players play because they love the game. Many will go on to play the game in college, and few to the NFL after that. This leads me to my third point concerning demand.

I am aware that demand is not a good justification for an activity"s continued existence. However, I was more importantly pointing out that this demand doesn"t go away when the game is banned, and could lead to more dangerous consequences with more unofficial games played. If you want specifics, look back at my original argument.

Lastly, concerning peripheral issues of funding, as I said before, this could only be relevant if you could provide evidence for a specific trade-off, and I don"t think your speculation has provided this. If money is indeed saved from a football ban (and I doubt it would be "millions"), there are a number of things that could happen with that money; for example, it could be returned to the county and the whole school budget lowered; perhaps, teachers get a raise. The list is really endless. Also, I don"t think you have proven that other activities suffer persistently from funding shortages. As I stated before, some clubs may not exist because student demand does not exist.
Debate Round No. 2


Thank you for that rebuttal Flipz, and for providing a good and respectful debate thus far.

I will move down your last post and respond to some points then rebuild my own cases points.

Regarding your first point, I would like to point out that the activities which you mention as examples are adult activities or involve a stronger adult presence for the purpose of safety, which football does not necessarily include. Keep in mind the NFL and college football is left out of this debate. Football itself I don't believe to be wrong, but the damage it causes in younger teenagers, I believe cannot be overlooked.

Concerning your second point, I feel I should use an attack you made against my own case. You can't guarantee that we can start implementing public transport systems in every city or suburb area. In fact, with the large amount of rural America especially in states like Kansas and South Dakota, it would be irrational to criminalize driving. However, I feel as a whole this argument is distracting from the actual debate, and plans concerning cars should be thrown out on either side.

Concerning your point on the benefits of football, I feel that the fact that these lessons can be learned elsewhere in safer environments, this particular benefit doesn't outweigh the harms. The harms I will be addressing as I rebuild my own case.

I would also like to address your point regarding something of backyard football. Your argument being that kids will go out and do it anyway without the safety equipment or officiation. Granted, you are right in this scenario, but state endorsement of the sport doesn't need to be added to what will happen whether high school football is to be banned or not.

To respond to your last attack, a higher teacher pay, lower taxes, new academic programs, or more money in a school district's budget would all be significantly beneficial. Any one of these would most likely a result of canceling football programs. You're right, I don't have evidence for a plan, but the inevitability is there.

Now to move on to some of my main points:

I would specifically like to address harms as a reason to ban football.

A recent study that I will post beneath showed that football players acquire enough sub concussive hits to change their life. This change is in a bad way, of course. While they may not be getting concussions all the time or dying from concussions, the number of students that actually use football as a career does not justify the number of students who are permanently damaged by football.

This can affect the students lives in a way they weren't necessarily aware of or that they did not intend to happen later in life. For example, if someone played football for fun and athleticism but wants a job with a high thinking requirement, they're already behind the game just because of the damage their brain took during football. As you stated, few of them will actually join the NFL, so what happens to the rest? The damage isn't actually as rare as you portrayed. It is inherent in the game of football to take hits that permanently damage the brain.

In conclusion to this rebuttal, the sport does significantly more harm than good. Maybe the precedent will be interpreted differently than intended, but the precedent intended is that the state will not participate in and fund an activity that significantly harms students across America.


Thank you, Storm. I will address your study after I"ve had a chance to defend my core positions. Forgive me if I dismiss the original structure of the arguments, but I am trying to tie certain points together here.

I would like to re-focus my first contention to a more principled debate, specifically examining the issues of personal choice and safety. Yes, high school football can be dangerous, but I don"t think my argument overlooks the harm. Rather, I am trying to show that despite risk, there are other values at stake. Surely, it is difficult to weigh an immaterial value against injury statistics, but I think that self-determination should be thought of, for the most part, inviolable, as it remains a critical component of our heritage and community ethos. Just like adults, high school students have rights, including free speech, freedom from illegal search and seizure, and even a high degree of self-governance depending on parameters set by their parents. It should be mentioned also that many high school players are legally adults since they reach 18 during or before their senior year of high school. As a side note, even if you could make a case that some high school students should not play based on their status as minors, you could not justify an outright ban since you would be counting legal adults. At most, you should be restricting certain players, and not the sport entirely.

More importantly, if an activity"s harmfulness were the sole criterion to determine its legality, many high school sports would face severe restrictions or bans based on this precedent. To say we should only ban football formulates a contradictory precedent, both legally and morally. According to Business Insider,
Men"s Baseball has 4.6 casualties per million (partcipants)
Men"s Track and Field-4.7 casualties per million
Men"s Wrestling-9.1 casualties per million
Men"s Lacrosse- 12.7 casualties per million
Women"s Gymnastics- 13.7 casualties per million
While football ranks high at 19 casualties per million, it is by no means the highest as hockey tops the list at 25 casualties per million. Note: "casualties" includes fatalities, permanent disabilities, and non-permanent brain/spinal cord injuries, such as concussions.

Why is it important we allow high school students to access dangerous sports, including football? Personal choice is about creating self-definition, learning your own limits, and developing responsible habits, all of which critically play a role in becoming a mature adult. While I would by no means trivialize the injuries suffered, data from Business Insider indicates that since 1982, only .00002% of players experience permanent injuries, death, or non-permanent concussions from high school football. This means that you would be denying the sport to the unaffected 99.99998% of players, players that are learning teamwork, finding inclusion, and building self-esteem. Football may not be the safest sport, but schools and organizations are all the time trying to create rules and enhance safety equipment to prevent injury. Football is rough, yes, but it is a highly regulated game, where players" safety remains the top concern. Also, you did not address my additional point from the last round that for many students, these same values cannot entirely be iterated in other sports due to those sports" lack of dynamicism and inclusion. For clarification, please see my last argument.

To clarify an earlier point, I was using the example of cars to show that even though they are not necessary in certain environments or situations, we do not restrict their usage or ban them outright. If cars were legal solely because of economic or infrastructural concerns, we would heavily restrict their usage, for example, prohibiting drives across country or at certain times during the night. That we don"t, demonstrates the value we place on freedom. Also, mentioning possible bans on spelunking, mountain climbing, or hiking was meant to show that the ethos of your position is wrong. We don"t regulate many voluntary dangerous activities not because they are necessary, but because we pride ourselves on supporting personal choice. Along this same vein, I do not understand your reply to my first point, as you say that these are "adult activities" or "involve a stronger adult presence," which is not true as high school students can and do undertake these activities without adult supervision. I would also like to suggest that high school football has even more adult supervision than many of these other legal activities; referees can penalize or eject unruly and abusive players.

Given the amount of scrutiny and regulation that high school football receives, I would like to reiterate my earlier point about "unofficial" football games. Your reply seems to suggest that we do not have to endorse it on an institutional level, but I will respond by saying that we should if it serves to enhance safety, which is your primary concern. Motorcycles, for example, are dangerous and fun but very unnecessary. You must, however, get a motorcycle license to operate one because the state realizes that banning them would be improper, so if people are going to drive them, they should have to go through a special designation. Football is just the same, because letting unofficial games run wild would mean less regulation and safety equipment, which means more injuries.

Now, as to the separate issue regarding funding, I stand by my previous point in saying that unless you provide evidence for a specific trade-off with other activities or benefits, you can"t claim this as an advantage to your plan. You don"t know where the money would go, if it would even still be applied to the school"s budget. Applying the money directly back to the county isn"t always a good thing. Maybe it goes toward tax breaks for companies that pollute the environment or some other nefarious purpose. More importantly than this point, you are taking money away from the school. Lots of alumni donate because of the football programs create so much pride about the school in general. It attracts other interested donors; my school had a new science building built by the grandparents of our football quarterback. Not to mention, if you take away the salaries of coaches, they might have to turn to the public welfare system because of their devalued skill sets. These impacts are only immediate, and I could reasonably guess also that college football programs would suffer loss of viewership as recruits without four years preparation become dramatically less skilled. Televised games produce millions in revenue, which means jobs. How would the NFL fare after their players" skill trajectories have been set behind by four years?

Lastly, I would like to briefly address the study you posted. First, I was not able to find a free full pdf version of this article, which means that I am replying based upon reading the abstract. If you can provide the full free version, please provide a link in your next post. Second, this article doesn"t really bring up anything new that we haven"t already assumed in our conversation thus far, and I think you are extrapolating too much in what you are claiming the article provides evidence for. Yes, football players take a lot of hits, most of which are sub-concussive; this is the nature of the game, and really the nature of many other contact sports like lacrosse or hockey. This article though does not articulate the relationship between sub-concussive hits and cognitive decline later in life, only saying that the potential relationship could "raise concern." Brain science is tricky and determining causality for adults with cognitive decline who played high school football years ago gets even trickier. Note that the article also seems to argue for new safety considerations and not an outright ban on the sport entirely. If this becomes a bigger issue, then I can respond with more. I yield back to Pro.
Debate Round No. 3


Thank you for that post, you're making very strong point against my case to which I, as a firm believer in sticking to ones position to the end of a debate, must now come up with refutations.

Now, I would like to address something in your last post concerning the ethos value of sports. I feel you have a very adequate understanding of the values you speak of, however, I also feel it's a fallacy to put too much emphasis on football itself when concerning these values. It is true that the ability to choose is important, and you imply a slippery slope, which without a precedent, is a logical fallacy. If you can bring up a precedent in either of your next to posts, the argument may stand again for further analysis.

However, concerning the inherent right to choose, something like football isn't necessary for this. We can look to precedents in the past such as ancient Athens, which is not famous for sports, but for the thinkers produced from a more educational and very free society. They were able to choose, but they didn't need events like football to exercise their freedoms.

I would also like to bring up some professional and medical agreement on the issue. I would like to know what year the study you cited was done in, because I get a feeling it could be somewhat old. I say this because of a quote from Douglas Casa Ph.D., Korey Stringer Institute: "Probably at least two thirds to three quarters of the deaths in sport at high schools in America are related to football. The seriousness and intensity of high school football in America has just grown by leaps and bounds in the last five, ten years."

I will also cite a Forbes article that summarizes Malcolm Gladwell's study and advocation. He specifically advocates against college football (something I do not agree with), but the nature of the game extends to high school.

If I respond to your point considering unofficial games I'll simply repeat myself. I feel it should be left up to the voters at this point whose argument they agree with.

I will yield back to com now, although ow that I'm in the debate I feel like anything more than four rounds is unnecessary. Honestly if you feel the same way we don't have to do five rounds.


Thank you for providing this debate, Storm. If you still want to keep the debate to just four rounds after you read my post, I am okay with this, as I feel we have both had sufficient space to present and defend our points. It"s up to you.

To clarify my earlier position, I am not arguing that a high school football ban would result in a slippery slope, but rather I am just trying to place a premium on the players" right to choose. In a society that values choice, we should not deny a player the personal rewards and benefits of a game, especially when the risk of permanent injury is nearly negligible. My analogies of high school football to other dangerous activities have served to show that the motivation behind a ban is wrong. It"s wrong because there are many other sports more dangerous or almost as dangerous as football. It"s wrong because it contravenes an ethos that says we shouldn"t have to sacrifice personal choice and responsibility for safety in context of voluntary activity.

Also, I think I"ve made the point about how the demand of high school football could lead to a number of unofficial games or leagues, where players might be less equipped to deal with injury. There might also be an economic loss concerning the NCAAF or NFL. The voters can decide to weigh this how they like, but I think these are particularly important points.

As for our competing sources, I want to give a little more analysis. The study I originally published was from a story found in Business Insider, which was published in 2010. You can find the link at Business Insider received their information from the National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research. You can find that link on the BI page. Second, to clarify my statistics from earlier, my information referred to the relative danger of sports and casualties per million players. This means that they did not count absolute injuries. I don"t know of any source that does. That being said, your source, Dr. Korey, could be right about how the majority of injuries in high school sports come from football. Nevertheless, I don"t know enough about the source to critique the context, but it certainly seems to me that his statement sounds like a guess and shouldn"t be considered as any kind of scientific evidence. As for Malcolm Gladwell"s article, I did think it brought up any points that have not already been addressed, and besides, it was really only about a self-imposed ban on college football, which you do not advocate.

If you need any clarifications, please see my arguments from Round 3. I yield back to Pro.
Debate Round No. 4


I think we've both made our points. Good debate, Flipz. Thank you for taking up my topic.


Thank you for the debate, Storm.
Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by TheOncomingStorm 5 years ago
Thank you again, I did this for the debate class I cadet for. They came up with this topic, so I argued a side and let you argue the other one to see what I could come up with to help them. So thanks for the help.
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