WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - From youth football to the NFL, football's participation and ratings dwarf every other sport. Consider this - Nielson numbers show the highest-rated non-football televised event of 2015 was the NCAA Championship game between Duke and Wisconsin. It drew 86 million fewer viewers than Super Bowl XLIX.
It's a sport many can't keep their eyes off of, but recently, the safety of the sport is getting an even closer look.
"I would like to see tackling moved to higher ages," says Dr. David Hill, a pediatrician in the Wilmington area. "To see young children really not playing tackle ball at all."
Concerns over the dangers of playing football have been a topic of conversation for quite some time. The film "Concussion" starring Will Smith added to that dialogue. The movie centers around chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) - a disease that affects memory and learning due to severe blows to the head. Much of today's research focuses on the early stages of CTE and the long-term effects it has on athletes. More athletes are suffering concussions at the professional level than at other levels.
Education that should start at an early age is what almost every advocate of the sport references. From the youth level on, the culture of the sport, in their words, has changed.
But what changes are being made, and how effective are they? What measures are being implemented to ensure the health of a sport that hits so close to home for so many? We'll take a look at that TONIGHT on FOX Wilmington News at 10.