Re: “Puyallup 9th-graders can play high school sports” (TNT, 4-25).
Puyallup would be making a mistake to move the ninth-grade football players up to the high school level.
Allowing ninth-graders to play in sports such as football with upperclassmen will be bad for the students’ overall health. Expecting an average 14- or 15-year-old to cover a 17- or 18-year-old senior is dangerous to the younger players and can result in more injuries in an already dangerous sport.
Also, the younger students will be put on larger teams with fewer coaches who will focus more on the varsity team than the other students.
Football has thousands of concussions every year at the high school level. Injuries most commonly occur when students are new to the sport and make common mistakes such as keeping their head down during a tackle, which can result in serious brain damage.
It would be better for the ninth-graders to stay at the junior high level so they can practice with others who are closer in experience. Since Puyallup schools already have a championship among their junior highs, they have plenty of games to last them a season. Although they would not be able to letter, they would be on a smaller team, allowing them to try more positions on the field and get more recommendations from the coaches.
If the ninth-graders continue playing against other students their own age, they will have more time to learn and work through mistakes.