MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Mid-South football players, coaches, and parents are keeping a closer eye on children who are strapping on the pads.
The increased awareness comes after a recent study painted a grim picture of the aftereffects of playing football.
A study released by Boston University found evidence of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in 99 percent of football players studied.
CTE is a debilitating brain disease that can cause a range of symptoms including memory loss and depression.
Coaches and players have known about CTE for some time, but the Boston University study uncovered more evidence that football players are prone to the disease due to the physical nature of the game.
Lynord Crutchfield, head football coach at Central High School, said it's important for coaches and parents to put a high value on player safety.
"Once a kid gets a concussion for me during the season, I sit him out the rest of the year, because I know how dangerous they are," Crutchfield said. "If the kid comes back and gets a second concussion, I recommend to the parent that the kid doesn't play anymore."
Taking concussions extremely seriously is one of only a few options to control and monitor head injuries, Crutchfield added.
He said head injuries are a part of the sport, and it's the responsibility of players, coaches, and parents to monitor the situation.
CTE and concussions have been in the spotlight in recent years.
Various documentaries and scientific studies have forced the NFL and other football governing bodies to implement new rules to combat brain injuries. But, Crutchfield said those rules can't curb the issue completely.
"I don't how much more they can change the game to take the contact out of it. You have the helmet, you have the shoulder pads on, so there's going to be some [injuries]," he explained.
There's also no current way to study the brains of living players. The studies that have been completed so far utilized brains of deceased football players. Without monitoring living players, it's unclear the impact football hits are having on young players.