SPORTS
01/31/2014 12:02 am ET | Updated Jan 31, 2014

Football Concussions Poll Finds Many Americans Don't Want Kids Playing

Many Americans fear football concussions, a new poll suggests.

Forty percent of Americans would rather have their children play a sport other than football due to concussion concerns, according to a new NBC News/WSJ poll. However, 57 percent said they would be fine with their children playing organized football.

Multiple concussions may lead to lifelong impairment, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says children are more likely to get a concussion and require a longer recovery time than adults. It's not just concussions that may cause brain damage, either. New research suggests that repeated small hits, even without a concussion diagnosis, may be harmful.

Income played a large factor in Americans' position on the sport. Those with the highest incomes were more likely to be opposed to playing football than those who have the lowest incomes.

Awareness of the connection between football concussions and long-term brain injury may vary based on income as well, an HBO Real Sports/Marist poll from October reported. Those with high incomes had heard about the issue more than those who earned less, the poll showed. Also, college graduates were more likely to have heard about the connection.

From 2010 to 2012, America's biggest youth football program saw a 9.5 percent decrease in participation, possibly reflecting the growing concern about concussions.

The worry goes all the way to the top. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama told The New Yorker: "I would not let my son play pro football."

With the Super Bowl coming up on Feb. 2, a recent NFL Nation survey of 320 players found that 85 percent of them would play in the Super Bowl with a concussion. As NFL player Bernard Pollard said, "We are competitors. We want to go out there and entertain. That's all we are. We're entertainers. Guys want to go out there."

The NFL reached a $765 million settlement this month with retired NFL players over concussion claims, but a federal judge declined to approve it, suggesting it might not be enough.

The NFL released data Thursday that showed the number of concussions dropped 13 percent from 2012 to 2013. As the Associated Press notes, new protection efforts this season include placing neurological consultants on the sidelines and banning "crown of the helmet" hits.

The NBC/WSJ poll of 800 adults reported a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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