Issue of Safety in School Football
High School and Concussions;
Is it Really Worth the Risk to Our Children?
Over 1 million young adults will play high school football yearly. Between 11 and 15 percent of those players will receive a concussion or a mild traumatic brain injury. According to a 2011 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been a 60 percent increase in the total youth athletes treated for traumatic brain injury in the past decade (Lapin 2012). It is being reported in studies that football has had the greatest amount of concussions. It is a fact that at least one player will receive a mild concussion in nearly every football game during the school year.
One Friday night last fall, the phone started ringing, our daughter was calling to tell us that Sloan our grandson was in the emergency room. Sloan had hit his head during one of the plays of the night. The coaches and team doctor determined that he required a hospital visit. They took him to the hospital where he went to the CT scan. The doctor was checking his neck and brain for injury. When the tests were complete; he was diagnosed with a double concussion. This was Sloan’s second concussion of the year. The doctors and team coaches told my daughter, he could no longer play football. My grandson would not be able return to the sport he loved to play. I will admit it thrilled me that his days playing this sport were over.
Ask yourself, will there be any long-term effects? Yes, there will be. His return to school was very slow, two hours at first and gradually he returned to school full time. His schoolwork suffered and making up all the work put so much stress on him. Sloan still has many symptoms’ months later. He suffers from headaches, dizziness, still has problems playing video games, watching TV, bright lights and loud sounds still him. My grandson was a lacrosse player, and that ended too. Sloan’s future goal had been to play football and or Lacrosse in college.
I had gone to one of his games when he first started playing in middle school. He was on the ground soon after the game started. I remember him lying on the field surrounded by the coaches after being hit hard in one play. I decided that day no more football games for me. I will never understand why running back and forth on a field, slamming into another child is fun. Someone will always get hurt.
How many of these players will get hurt before we as parents take a stand? A lot of the policies and practices are not being used correctly or being taught properly. Players are wearing helmets that have not been re-certified, and that is dangerous. The average high school football lineman will receive at least 1000 to 1500 hits to his head during the entire football season (Anthony & H. 2019).
A child does not need not be unconscious to have a concussion. Studies have shown that 90% of concussions will occur with no loss of consciousness. My grandson never passed out. It is so important that the children know they need to tell someone when they get hurt. Many people think concussions are temporary injuries. They are not, a concussion can have long-lasting consequences. The long-term effects will increase when a player experiences multiple head injury. One-third of the high school players who have had a concussion will report two or more within the same season.
The second-impact syndrome refers to an individual who sustains a head injury and then sustains another before the symptoms associated with the first injury have healed. Some researchers believe that until stability returns, the brain will be more vulnerable to a second injury. The second injury, regardless of how severe, can have tragic outcomes from severe neurological dysfunction to death. (2017).
A story I read while writing this paper helped me realize, that a new way of playing football needs to be shown to these children. Zackery loved playing sports. The 13-year-old middle schooler outshined in them; he was the greatest in football. During a football game, Zackery made a tackle and landed hard on his helmet. His coach led him off the field to asses him. Zackery never lost consciousness. School coaches let him return into the game before obtaining a proper medical analysis. Before the game ended, Zackery collapsed. Zackery was rushed him to the hospital where he underwent emergency brain surgery. The surgery saved his life and he has made amazing progress. Zachery still depends on his wheelchair and 24/7 supervision for all of his daily needs (2017).
Young athletes suspected of getting a concussion should never return to play without a complete evaluation. It must be a licensed doctor or a professional trained in the evaluation and management of concussions. Making an increased awareness and stricter rules will not work if parents, coaches, and referees ignore them. We need advances in helmets, rule changes, safe tackling and hitting techniques. We must teach the right way to play this game, to make it safer. The players must play the right way, and it may just work.
- Anthony, and Kathryn H. “Football Helmets and Concussions. Take a Look at the Concussion Epidemic Plaguing Football Players.” IDEALS @ Illinois, Utne Reader, 1 Jan. 2019, http://hdl.handle.net/2142/103838.
- Lapin, Joseph A. “The Public Relations of Brain Injury.” Pacific Standard, 14 Dec. 2012, https://psmag.com/economics/the-public-relations-of-brain-injury-50456.
- “Management of Sports-Related Concussion in Children and Adolescents.” BrainLine, 12 July 2017, https://www.brainline.org/article/management-sports-related-concussion-children-and-adolescents.
- “When Is It Safe to Return to Play After a Concussion?” BrainLine, 27 May 2017, https://www.brainline.org/article/when-it-safe-return-play-after-concussion.