NH school board member wants football banned

Posted: 10/02/12 at 10:30 pm EDT      Last Updated: 10/02/12 at 11:33 pm EDT

Dover, N.H. (WHDH) -- A fight over a fall tradition is underway in a New Hampshire community, and it could end with the lights going out on the high school football team.

Safety on the football field has become a hot topic in recent years -- especially at the high school level. But a school board member in Dover, New Hampshire says it's time for football to get kicked out of town.

Young football players walked off the practice field Monday hoping to play at the high school level one day -- but not if Paul Butler has his way.

"I'll do my best to try to convince the other members of the school board that it’s a dangerous game and that we should abandon it,” said Dr. Paul Butler.

Butler is a retired surgeon and first-term school board member who asked the rest of the board to consider turning off the Friday night lights for good.

A former high school and college player himself, Dr. Butler says recent studies have revealed just how dangerous the game can be.

"Football, unlike hockey, unlike lacrosse -- both of which are violent games -- football is the one where the head gets repeatedly banged,” said Dr. Butler.

It probably wouldn't surprise you that many of the parents and young players 7News spoke with say Dr. Butler is out of bounds.

Harold Stephens

"I think there's a lot of positive things you can get from playing football. A lot of good lessons kids learn, teamwork, working together for a common goal," said Harold Stephens.

“I love football, my favorite sport,” said Erik Stephens.

“I think it’s really foolish. If you’re going to look at sports in general, look at them all. Hockey, lacrosse, I mean you can’t just pick football ‘cause that’s what’s in the NFL and that’s what everyone’s talking about now,” said Stephanie Carberry.

But one parent admitted he's considered pulling his boys out of the game himself.

"They love the game and it’s a hard thing to say, ‘you can’t play anymore,’ after you’ve been playing your whole life, but it makes me nervous,” said Mike Wasserman.

Dr. Butler says he will bring his proposed ban on high school football to a vote one day soon.

“I think it’s bad to take this away I certainly do. But it’s worse to let it continue,” Dr. Butler said.

7News spoke with other school board members who said they don’t expect to make sweeping changes -- such as banning football -- anytime soon.

Dr. Butler says this is first and only school board term and won’t run for re-election.

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