A father opens up about his decision to let his son play tackle football

Despite the well documented risks of tackle football, Luke Zaleski discusses his decision to allow his 9-year-old son to play the sport.
5:52 | 10/09/17

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Transcript for A father opens up about his decision to let his son play tackle football
Okay, ginger, now to a parenting dilemma. So many are facing it. Should you let your child play football? One father is sharing his story in September's "Gq" magazine revealing why he let his 8-year-old play. Linsey Davis talked to them and she's here with us. Reporter: Good morning, robin. Since 20099 number of kids between 6 and 12 who play tackle football has gone down by nearly 20%. Studies linking the game to brain damage and headlines about lo long-term effects of concussions have a lot of parents running away from the sport and then there are those like Luke who wrestled with the football dilemma. Repetitive head trauma chokes the brain. That movie, that concussion movie that Will Smith starred in was based on a "Gq" article. Reporter: Luke was well aware of the risks of tackle football when his then 8-year-old son asked him if he could play. It was like, oh, my god. He actually wants to play football. Reporter: After a great deal of soul seahing chronicled in his article, "What kind of father lets his son play football" featured in "Gq" he said, yes, son, you can play. Why is it you let him play football. Because I love him and I want him to reach his potential because it's scary, because it's hard -- It toughens you up. It toughens you up. Frankly, you come home you're a little nicked up, banged up. You talk in the article, I think like a military risk. That choreographed kind of disciplined way the game is played and I love the teamwork and love the coordination. What would you have said if your parents not have let you. I would have been infuriated. I lovefootball and it would have been such a bummer. Reporter: So far father and son agreed the rewards outweigh the risk. When I see him walk off the field and his face is red and he's sweaty and I know he's given 100%. Ever since I started football, you know, there's like late night 8:00 pickups from practices where he helps me get my pads off and I'm like worn out and he surprises me with like a Gatorade or something. It's just, you know, it's awesome. Now, Luke says he reserves the right to change his mind. He's been really conflicted about letting his son play because of the issue of concussions. He says it certainly was not an easy decision. He's even had bad dreams about it and now he's taking it day by day. Or play-by-play. To read more about his story find it online. Robin. So good of him to share that. All right, linsey, thank you. We're joined by Dr. Jennifer Ashton and Ericka souter, the editor of mom.me. A lot of people are nodding along and watching this and it's not just football. It's other sports, as well. But what -- just give us the latest about head injuries. So really traumatic brain injury which is the medical term or concussion by the numbers pretty staggering statistics, one every 15 seconds in the United States. That results in 1.7 million head injury patients every year responsible for approximately 50,000 plus deaths, 80,000 plus with permanent disabilities and it cops with a massive price tag, almost $80 billion a year on our medical system learning pore about what's going on in the brain during a concussion. Basically disruption in terms of the metabolism in the brain, calcium, potassium, glucose levels are changed and change in blood flow and impaired electrical signals and can have long-term effect and does appear young brains are more sensitive to this. Ericka, when a parent sees or hears this they're grappling with issues. They're weighing the risks, is it worth my child playing a sport if they can have long-term medical effects from it? But they're also weighing it against the pros. Something ha sports give every kid. That's teamwork. Absolutely. A little bit of Independence, perseverance. Learning how to push through and work together and those are all skills that every parent wants their child to have. It's a debate. A debate in a lot of households. Is there work being done to recognize concussions and the treatment and all that? There is so much research right now going on looking for maybe a blood test to accurately and sensitively diagnose a traumatic brain injury or concussion. We're not there yet so in the meantime, what can every parent do? Pay attention to your child regardless of their age to every hit, contact, fall. Watch how that athlete moves after that contact. You know your child better than anyone and the coaches and the certified athletic tapers are amazing but they're watching five kid, ten kids, 20 kids all at the same time. You have to have your eyes on your child and I'm telling you as a hockey parent, you know my daughter plays a very rough physical sport. I watch every time she gets up because I'm going to know if she's skating, you know, impaired. You can't wrap -- you can't remove all risk. Where would you stop? I told you this before. My momma pulled me out playing basketball and she was like, "Humble and kin huh-uh. I know my girl. I have a 9-year-old and he loves to watch. I said, no, not right now. I don't feel like he's ready for that kind of physicality and I talked to him about it. You can have age appropriate conversations with your child. A 6-year-old might not get it. 9, 10, to junior high might understand your concerns, but ultimately it's important for all parents to remember it's your choice. Not your child's choice. What was your son's reaction when you said no. Oh, come on. What are you talking about? But we pushed him towards baseball. He loves playing it That's the complicated thing here. Where do you remove? Where do you stop the slippery slope. Cheerleading, soccer, military, car accidents. You can fall and get a concussion. It's not just football. All right, well, thank you both so very much. I love your interpretation of your son, oh, no.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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