DOVER, NH (CBS) – For now, Dr. Paul Butler finds himself on a lonely island.READ MORE: Attempted Murder Suspect With One Handcuff, One Shoe Escapes Police In Charlton Near Mass Pike
âI am suggesting that we try to stop the game of football in Dover,â says the soft spoken member of Doverâs school board.
Those words may not have trickled down to the high school practice field yet, where players ran through drills this afternoon.
But the statement was something of a lightning bolt at Mondayâs school board session.
âThe literature on head injuries in football is getting increasingly clear,â says Butler. “The game is dangerous for our brains.â
Butler is not trying to be a stick in the mud. Heâs a retired general surgeon, who played high school and Division 3 college football as a kid â and loved it.
But now, he argues that Dover schools should ban the game, amid what he sees as clear evidence of the lasting damage that concussions can have on the developing brain.
âIf weâre hurting our brains as youngsters in a game that we love,â he says, âit hurts us later in life.â
But Doverâs athletic director believes banning football is a gross and unnecessary over-reaction to a real problem that schools and youth coaches are already addressing.
He points to lengthy training and medical protocols, put in place to prevent, recognize and treat concussions.
âI donât think itâs necessary to scrap football at all,â argues athletic director Peter Wotton. âWe have safety nets in place.â
He contends it boils down to parent and student choice in the end, electing to join football â or any other sport â with the informed knowledge of its risks.READ MORE: Red Line Train Derails At Broadway MBTA Station; No Injuries But Riders Warned To Expect Delays
Many folks in town seem to share his view that dumping football is ludicrous.
âHow far is this nanny state going to go?â says one father. âAre they going to wrap us all in bubble wrap?â
âYou can ride a bike and get hurt the same way,â another Dad chimes in. âAre we going to ban bicycles?â
Dr. Butler is keenly aware that his stand against football will not win him any popularity contests. But he believes his newly adopted mission is his moral and ethical duty.
âI know itâs a little radical,â he says, âand Iâm not sure Iâll be able accomplish it because itâs such a part of our culture.â
He agrees that school sports are a character builder â vitally important to the student-athlete.
But to Butler, there is no way around the fact that human beings hurtling into each other at speeds exceeding 15 miles per hour is formula for brain injury at some point â no matter what precautions are taken or safer techniques taught.
âI know coaches are trying to teach children to tackle with their shoulders and not their head,â Butler says. âBut that is just not happening.â
So â at the very least â he hopes parents will dig into the mountain of concussion evidence readily available to them and eventually be swayed â just like Americans were on the subjects of smoking, seat belts and bike helmets.
âThose are no-brainers now,â says Butler, âand I think someday not playing football will be a no-brainer also.â
He points to brain injury lawsuits brought against virtually every level of football â from the NFL on down. And if schools donât shut down football on their own â he predicts â multi-million dollar lawsuits eventually will.MORE NEWS: Student Arrested After Bringing Gun To Quincy School Program
The football ban Dr. Butler proposes will be discussed at the Dover school boardâs November meeting.