Eliminating dangerous sport would save money

It’s imperative to place students’ health and safety first, even before educating them.

We recently attended a school board meeting in which compensation for Vashon Education Support Personnel (VESP) was discussed. We left that meeting talking about ways that the District could improve its ability to pay people well to attract and keep good employees. We applaud the District for the new contract. But our new recommendation is for Vashon Island to eliminate the costly sport of tackle football and use future savings for staff salaries.

Vashon Island should take a lead in this area. We should not wait for more studies showing the clear link between youth who play tackle football and brain disorders such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE. The science is already obvious. CTE is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head.

In addition to CTE, well-publicized recent work at Boston University shows a disturbingly strong link between those who played tackle football and the onset of cognitive impairment and mood swings as young adults. The District needs to act on the science and eliminate tackle football as a youth sport.

It’s imperative to place students’ health and safety first, even before educating them. The savings recovered by eliminating football could be significant. Insurance liability is one area in which the District should find savings, but the program itself is very costly. The goals of our district need to be student safety and education.

— Joe Curiel and Tony Raugust

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