DOVER, N.H. (AP) — A proposal to drop football at one New Hampshire school district has surprised and upset many residents.
The idea was suggested at a Dover School Board meeting Monday night by board member Paul Butler, a retired physician.
Butler said the potential for concussions is too great of a risk. He said concussions on developing brains can have a long-lasting impact, including the possibility of brain damage, depression and dementia.
Butler said he knows stopping the game isn’t popular.
‘‘I suspect it’s going to take a long time. This might be the first volley. It took a long time for people to wear bicycle helmets. It took a long time for people to stop smoking,’’ he said.
The board later released a statement that Butler’s comments were his reaction to various studies he’s read and is not the opinion of the board itself. It said termination of the high school football program isn’t on the agenda at this time.
Dover Athletic Director Peter Wotton said safer tackling is being coached and players are being supervised by doctors.
‘‘Any sport is a target, because it feel like anytime you put kids in motion—there is an inherent risk to playing sports and taking part in athletics, and for some reason the target is on football. I don’t think it should be on anything,’’ he said.
Wotton said girl’s basketball ranked higher in concussions in 2011.
A new law in New Hampshire is aimed at protecting student athletes from concussions and other head injuries. Under the law, coaches and other athletic officials who suspect that an athlete has suffered a concussion will be required to remove him or her from play immediately, and the athlete will have to get written authorization from a health care provider and a parent before returning.
Information about such injuries also will be distributed to all youth athletes each year, and parents will have to sign forms indicating they had read the information before the start of practice or competition.