Reading Guides

Football and Brain Trauma – Recommended Books

Football Brain Trauma Books

As the Super Bowl draws near, the books on this reading list challenge us to take critical look at football and the brain trauma many players have experienced …

I used to be a big football fan, often spending large chunks of my Sundays enjoying NFL games. But the more I heard and read about brain injuries and trauma, the less enthused I was about the sport. Today I rarely watch a full game, and have mostly lost interest in the sport.

Here’s some excellent books that present the research on brain injuries and tell the stories of former football players: 


No Game for Boys to Play: The History of Youth Football and the Origins of a Public Health Crisis 

Kathryn Bachynski

(UNC Press)

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.



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