Potential long-term negative health consequences for youth who play tackle football include chronic traumatic encephalopathy, pituitary dysfunction, metabolic syndrome and increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and erectile dysfunction. Short-term health risks include headaches, dizziness and memory problems.
The risk of traumatic brain injury and other health problems associated with playing tackle football is far greater among children and teens than among adults. This is in large part because children's necks are weaker than those of adults, leaving them more vulnerable to traumatic brain injuries.
Other potential health problems for children and teens who sustain brain injuries while playing tackle football include a tendency to suffer from depression, unstable moods and development of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. In addition, teens who suffer head injuries during tackle football games are at a higher risk of being bullied or bullying others, being generally antisocial, attempting suicide, abusing alcohol and drugs and developing other mental health issues.
Health risks of tackle football also extend to young adults. A study funded by the National Football League Charities found that college football players who had not been diagnosed with concussions over a season experienced physical changes to their brains after as few as 15 hard hits and that six months later, imaging scans indicated changes consistent with mild brain injury in roughly 50 percent of the players.