(KCBS) - Participation in Pop Warner youth tackle football has reportedly declined in recent years. John Madden told the KCBS Morning crew that safety concerns are the most likely reason.
ESPN's "Outside the Lines" series found that Pop Warner participation fell by more than 23,000 children between 2010-2012, the largest decline on record for the organization. One medical expert said the "number 1 cause" of the decline was concern over head injuries.
"I think probably rightly so," Madden said. "I think flag football is great, and you can get all of the skills that a kid needs. They can throw it and catch it, and run it and all that stuff. You don't need a helmet to play it. And I think the reason that you put a helmet on is the reason that eight, nine and ten-year-old kids shouldn't be playing tackle football."
Madden said tackle football shouldn't be played until high school.
"Eventually we're going to get there. Eventually people are going to look back on it and say we used to put helmets on eight, nine, ten-year-old kids and have them play tackle football. I think they'll laugh at that."
In other news, Todd Christensen, the five-time Pro-Bowl tight end for the Raiders, died Wednesday at age 57.
"He was one of the first of the hybrids," Madden said. "They called him a tight end, but he really wasn't the type of tight end that the Raiders knew.... They could use Todd Christensen in a different way. They could use him out of the backfield, put him in the slot, split him out, just trying to get a big guy like him deep.... He was very, very effective." (6:25)
Listen to the John Madden segment live weekday mornings at 8:15 on KCBS All News 740 AM/106.9 FM. And catch John's extra report at 9:15 am Mondays and Fridays on KCBS during the NFL season.
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