Nightly News | October 07, 2012
>>> it's always been a game of hard knocks but the growing recognition of football head injuries touches what would have been out of bound a few years ago. why football is simply too dangerous for kids to play.
>> reporter: for many americans the high school football season is the best part of the year.
>> i like playing football .
>> my favorite sport.
>> reporter: but that fun comes at too high a price says dr. paul butler , a retired physician. the father of three who now sits on the dover school board wants to shut down the football program for good. he believes the risk of concussions and long-term brain injuries to players is too high.
>> i think it's a risk.
>> i think it's overly radical and it's not supported by medical evidence.
>> reporter: the school board released a statement saying dr. butler's opinion is his own, and that the determination of the dhs football program has not come before the board and is not on any agenda at this time. still, parents were quick to speak out.
>> the backing is there, you know. jim mcmahon just came out and said he suffers from dementia, so there is a fear.
>> if you're going to stop football , you better stop hockey.
>> reporter: symptoms are often subtle and easily missed. among children and adolescents, emergency room visits for sports-related brain injuries , including concussions, have gone up 60% in ten years. ask for boys, the rates are highest in football .
>> from the nfl all wait down to pop warner youth football , unprecedented steps have been taken the last several years to make the game safer.
>> reporter: more than half of the states in america, including new hampshire, have concussion laws to protect student athletes. at eastern tech in maryland, players take brain function tests to determine if and when they can play after an injury.
>> it will tell me how severe my injury is, it will tell me how long i have to get back.
>> reporter: banning football altogether may be extreme, but butler's proposal has triggered a passionate debate, forcing the country to take a different look at one of its most cherished pastimes.