According to a 2013 study by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, tackle football saw the highest incidence of concussions among youth sports. But the next-highest rates belonged to ice hockey and lacrosse, both of which were among the few youth sports experiencing an increase in participation from 2008 to 2012.
In fact, kids are moving away from all three of America’s big-time sports, football, basketball and baseball (even though baseball is regarded by pediatricians as one of the safer sports for children). And among the big three, football’s decline was actually the smallest (baseball and basketball saw their participation rates drop by 7.2 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively).
The NFL’s high-profile concussion issues might be playing some role in the sport’s falling popularity among kids. But as Forbes’ Bob Cook pointed out in November, the effect is just as likely attributable to other factors, including the increasing trend toward specialization in young athletes.