No Game for Boys to Play

The History of Youth Football and the Origins of a Public Health Crisis

By Kathleen Bachynski

No Game for Boys to Play

296 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 18 halftones, 1 graph, 6 tables

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-5370-9
    Published: November 2019
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-5369-3
    Published: November 2019

Studies in Social Medicine

Paperback Available November 2019, but pre-order your copy today!

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From the untimely deaths of young athletes to chronic disease among retired players, roiling debates over tackle football have profound implications for more than one million American boys—some as young as five years old—who play the sport every year. In this book, Kathleen Bachynski offers the first history of youth tackle football and debates over its safety. In the postwar United States, high school football was celebrated as a “moral” sport for young boys, one that promised and celebrated the creation of the honorable male citizen. Even so, Bachynski shows that throughout the twentieth century, coaches, sports equipment manufacturers, and even doctors were more concerned with “saving the game” than young boys’ safety—even though injuries ranged from concussions and broken bones to paralysis and death.

By exploring sport, masculinity, and citizenship, Bachynski uncovers the cultural priorities other than child health that made a collision sport the most popular high school game for American boys. These deep-rooted beliefs continue to shape the safety debate and the possible future of youth tackle football.

About the Author

Kathleen Bachynski is assistant professor of public health at Muhlenberg College.
For more information about Kathleen Bachynski, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

“The way in which Bachynski describes the cultural and communal construction of safety, personal responsibility, and masculinity does much to explain the way we value particular forms of masculine identity in American society. Smart, salient, timely, eminently readable, and socially important.”—Stephen Casper, Clarkson University

“The future of American football will not be determined by a handful of NFL owners or a few hundred college presidents but by millions of parents deciding whether the game is too dangerous for their sons in the era of CTE.  Kathleen Bachynski’s groundbreaking history of a century-long medical and cultural debate about youth football, its obvious risks and assumed benefits, could not be more timely.”–Michael Oriard, author of Bowled Over, Brand NFL, and King Football