THE BRAIN ON YOUTH SPORTS: The Science, The Myths, and the Future, Julie M. Stamm PhD

15 June, 2021

Dispels the myths surrounding head impacts in youth sports and empowers parents to make informed decisions about sports participation.

“They’re just little kids, they don’t hit that hard or that much.” “Girls soccer is the most dangerous sport.” “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy only happens to former NFL players.” “Youth sports are safer than ever.” These are all myths propagated with the goal of maintaining the status quo in youth sports, which can subject young, rapidly maturing brains to hundreds of impacts each season. In THE BRAIN ON YOUTH SPORTS (Rowman & Littlefield, July 2021), Julie M. Stamm  PhD dissects the issue of repetitive brain trauma in youth sports and their health consequences, explaining the science behind concussions, CTE, and subconcussive impacts written in an easy-to-understand approach, so you can be a well-informed consumer and decision maker. It’s not all about concussions. Those repetitive impacts that happen on every play in football or with every header in soccer can damage the brain, too. The consequences can be even worse for a child’s developing brain. Stamm counters the myths, bad arguments, and propaganda surrounding the youth sports industry. This book also provides guidance for those deciding whether or not their child should play sports with a high risk of repetitive brain trauma as well as for those hoping to make youth sports truly as safe as possible for young athletes.

Stamm, a former three-sport athlete herself, understands the many wonderful benefits that come from playing youth sports and believes all children should have the opportunity to play sports without the risk of long-term consequences. No athlete has to sustain hundreds of impacts and repetitive brain trauma in order to gain the benefits of sports. This work is a must-read before you suit up your child for another practice or send your team out for another game.


Nearly 900,000 children ages 6 to 12 play tackle football. Is it so horrible for them to whack their noggins? Yes. “Common sense tells us that hitting our heads is bad for the brain,” says Stamm, a former high school athlete with a PhD in anatomy and neurobiology who studies chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or brain degeneration. She nixes the notion that helmets can be “concussion proof.” Even with a covering, a head can move rapidly after a blow. More than a third of athletes don’t report symptoms, sometimes because they’re afraid they’ll be labeled “soft,” lose their scholarships, or end their career. How about getting kids to stick to flag football? Tom Brady played it until ninth grade, while Walter Peyton and Jerry Rice didn’t play full contact until tenth grade. Stamm celebrates sports, which help prevent obesity while teaching discipline, dedication, perseverance, and teamwork. But she worries about blows during games of football, soccer, rugby, and ice hockey that can cause blurred vision, headache, dizziness, fatigue, anxiety, and nausea. There are lifesaving lessons here for young athletes, parents, and policymakers. ― Booklist

Stamm’s book is a must read for all parents contemplating allowing their young child to play a collision sport as it will allow for an informed, highly-educated decision. — Robert C. Cantu, MD, author of “Concussion and Our Kids”

Clearheaded and productive conversation on brain injury from football is rare. Dr. Stamm has been an athlete, an athletic trainer, and a researcher. Her comprehensive experience provides an invaluable perspective. The Brain on Youth Sports is a gift to anyone aiming to gain an objective understanding of brain injury from football and other contact sports. — Chris Borland, former NFL player and sport safety advocate

About the Author:  Julie M. Stamm has spent a decade studying concussions and the long-term consequences of repetitive brain trauma in sports, with a focus on how that trauma impacts brain development.  She earned her doctorate in anatomy and neurobiology from the Boston University School of Medicine and conducted research at the Boston University Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center and the Psychiatry Neuroimaging Laboratory at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  She is an alumna of University of Wisconsin-Madison where she earned her degree in kinesiology/athletic training and is currently a clinical assistant professor at the university.