Gridiron Grit and a will of steel.  It's all part of the game fans can football.

And with it comes injuries, from the pro's to the pee wee's.

In 2001 the Institute of Medicine reported 150,000 athletes 19 and younger were treated for concussions in the ER.  By 2009, that number jumped to 250,000.

Two months ago a Virginia Tech researcher fitted dozens of children for special helmets. Sensors inside the helmet count the number of hits kids take during games and practice.

All of this has a Roanoke City councilman wondering if kids, not even out of elementary, should be taking such risks.

"I'd like for Roanoke to take the lead and get out in front of this issue to talk about emphasizing flag football instead of helmet to helmet, full contact football," says Sherman Lea, a Roanoke City councilman.

This month Lea asked the recreation department to study pulling back on contact football for kids in city leagues. His idea? To build up the city's current flag football program for kids between the ages of 5 and 10, or at least give parents the option. 

"Flag football does meet that need of a parent that has a child that is not necessarily interested in seeing them play full contact football," says Steve Buschor the Director of Roanoke City Parks and Recreation.

Currently the city's rec league only offers flag football in the Spring. When it launched in 2009, 103 kids signed up. Participation has dropped since.

Many adults agree flag football for young children could be a better choice.

"I think it's good for them the first couple of years to get the knowledge of the game because at this age they just want to run and tackle and they really don't know what they're doing," says Katrina Kish.

 "I believe it's up to the parents. They're little kids maybe they don't need contact," says Jon Bradd.

While flag football could teach the fundamentals, implementing it year round would certainly cost more.  It remains to be seen if this new proposal will be a win-win.

The Parks and Rec department will study this proposal with the Youth Athletic Council which technically oversees the city's sports leagues.  City council could get a recommendation from those two groups in a few months and proceed from there.