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Why These Black Communities Are Embracing Youth Football Despite Risks

February 28, 2024

Why These Black Communities Are Embracing Youth Football Despite Risks

Ask students: Where is Lexington, Mississippi? Describe some aspects of the community. How does football give young people in Lexington hope, pride and a feeling of community?

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Football's troubles with concussions and injuries have been well chronicled. A 2023 Boston University study found that those who start playing tackle football at an early age or play it for more than 11 years are at greater risk of cognitive and behavioral problems. That's started to change feelings about tackle football for kids. But in some Black communities like Lexington, Mississippi, the commitment and belief in youth football remains strong.

Marcus Rogers, head football coach of Holmes County Central High School in Lexington, says football teaches youth about life and that the sport has gotten safer.

View the transcript of the story.

Remote video URL

Discussion Questions

  1. Who are the individuals and groups featured in the piece?
  2. What do Mason and R.J. want to be when they grow up?
  3. What historical and societal problems do many residents of Lexington, Mississippi, face each day, according to this story?
  4. Where is Lexington, Mississippi? Describe some aspects of the community.
  5. Why does Mason Rogers think Football is important?
  6. How does football give young people in Lexington hope, pride and a feeling of community?

Focus Questions

  1. Why are communities of color like Lexington, Mississippi, sticking with football?
  2. Tackle football participation is down 13.2 percent from 2019 to 2022 among kids 6 through 12, but thousands of young people continue to play the sport. If you were a parent, would you encourage your child to play football? Why or why not?
  3. Media literacy: According to the video, "A Povich and Howard Center poll found that Black and Hispanic parents are nearly twice as likely as white parents to see youth football as a path to college scholarships and even the NFL."
    • Based on this statement, what additional information do you have questions about? Who else might you interview for this piece?

Extension Activity

Watch the following Student Reporting Labs video (2014) and answer the following prompt: Compare and contrast the benefits and drawbacks of tackle football.

Remote video URL

Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Classroom.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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