New Hampshire school board member calls for end to high school football

A medical doctor who serves on the board of a New Hampshire school district wants to end the high school's football program over fears that players could suffer concussions that would lead to brain injuries later in life.

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Paul Butler, a retired physician and member of the Dover School Board, proposed eliminating football at both the high school and younger levels, telling fellow board members Monday night that the move is crucial for the players' safety, reports

Butler, who played football himself, cited medical evidence that suggests even a single blow to the head can lead to multiple brain injuries, because the impact can cause the brain to rattle around in the skull.

“These people have studied brains [of] football players who have died prematurely and have found, in some of them, significant changes that they have only seen in eighty and ninety-year-olds who have Alzheimer’s,” he told the station.

Butler’s proposal was quickly sacked by parents and other board members who say it would ruin a Dover High School tradition.

Amanda Russell, vice chair at the Dover School Board told the station, “I think the longstanding tradition here in Dover says that football has to stay.”

Athletic Director Peter Wotton said all sports involve a certain amount of risk.

“With every sport we have at some point in time a student athlete gets a concussion,” Wotton said.

Wotton says concussions are taken very seriously at the school, and Dover High School is even partnered with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital in a brain concussion study

Rather than eliminate the sport completely, Board Chairman Rocky D’Andrea said coaches can ensure safety by instilling safer methods in players.

“I’d much rather see them do better job with the coaching and teaching of proper tackling techniques,” D'Andrea said.

The issue will be on the next month’s school board agenda, and Butler vowed to force it to a vote.