1967: AMA Touts Head-Up Tackling, Avoids Judging Youth Football

By Matt Chaney, ChaneysBlog.com

Posted Saturday, February 4, 2017

Fifty years ago, officials of the American Medical Association publicly endorsed “head-up” chest tackling for football—or longtime, qualified quackery of coaches, doctors and trainers—while avoiding a responsible stance in the protest over youth players then led by the American Academy of Pediatrics, among a wave of concerned physicians. The medical football follies of 1967 and the period still reflect how leaders of America’s foremost medical associations, including editors of trusted publications like Journal of the American Medical Association, sidestep the blatant violation of Hippocratic ethos and assumption-of-risk doctrine that is juvenile collision football in this country. Currently, the billion-dollar question for headliner “concussion” lawsuits remains: When did football officials understand the risk of traumatic brain disease in their sport and did they properly inform players and families? But the relevant football question confronting most Americans, today and since the 1880s, remains: Should juveniles be banned from playing the tackle game? Historic public information sheds light. Below is an unprecedented collection of medical remarks and opinion, including essential AMA proclamations and JAMA content, regarding tackle football from 1907 through the establishment of enforceable “anti-butting” policy and rules in 1976. Quadriplegic former schoolboy player Jim Wallgren concludes, in 1986, symbolizing legal-ethical dilemma. Then and still.

The historical texts and notes on football issues previously posted here in timeline were publicly available only for a term. The collections are now in reserve by the researcher for future use. The following remain posted:

Chaney, M. (2016, Dec. 21). ‘Safe Football Failed in 1880s, Talking Points Lived On. ChaneysBlog.com

Chaney, M. (2015, July 28). The 1890s: Brain risks confirmed in American football. ChaneysBlog.com.

Chaney, M. (2016, Jan. 30). 1900-1912: ‘First Concussion Crisis’ for beloved football. ChaneysBlog.com.

Chaney, M. (2016, May 11). ‘Heads Up’ theory, football helmets and brain disease, 1883-1962. ChaneysBlog.com.

Chaney, M. (2016, May 31). Teddy Roosevelt loved football, except when it brutalized his son. Sports.Vice.com.

Chaney, M. (2016, Nov. 29, 2016). “Slaughter of the innocents”: When D.C. considered banning high school football. Sports.Vice.com.

Matt Chaney is a writer, editor, researcher and consultant on public issues in sport, specializing in American football for three decades. Chaney, with an MA in media studies, is a former college football player and coach whose books include Spiral of Denial: Muscle Doping in American Footballfrom his Four Walls Publishing in 2009Chaney’s study for graduate thesis, co-published with the University of Central Missouri in 2001, analyzed print sport-media coverage of anabolic substances in football from 1983-1999. Email him at mattchaney@fourwallspublishing.com or visit the website for more information.