English 10, Hour 4
May 4, 2015
High School Football - Reduce the Risk and Reap the Rewards?
September 13, 2013, was sixteen year old Damon Janes’ last football game. Why, because he was pronounced dead in a local Buffalo hospital three days after that game. His cause of death, brain damage. Janes took numerous hits to the head during a varsity football game. He seemed perfectly healthy, but in actuality, he suffered brain swelling, bleeding, and bruising all resulting from numerous hits to the head while playing football. Janes was only one of the eight high school athletes who died in 2013 from the brain and spine injuries they suffered while playing high school football. In addition to brain trauma, heart conditions, asthma and heat stroke have contributed to three times more deaths in high school players than in college football; all of which may have been prevented. Since the early 1900s the game of football has continuously evolved in an effort to protect its players from injuries and fatalities. In fact, the rules and equipment changes over the years have done just that for college and NFL players. Sadly, according to a number of studies, this is not the case at the high school level where many of these fatalities could have been avoided. It’s time to make high school football as safe as college and professional football so the rewards outweigh the risks. It is quite possible that Damon Janes’ death and other injuries and deaths similar to his were preventable. Kevin Guskiewicz, founding director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at North Carolina, suggests that more serious and deadly injuries are occurring to high school players than for college and professional players for three main reasons. One such reason is older equipment. Helmets that aren’t certified or effective can lead to more brain related deaths which is much more likely to occur in high school than in college. With the proper budget the proper equipment could be purchased, thereby reducing the number of head injuries. A second financial factor, is related to the number of full time athletic trainers on staff. According to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, just 37% of public high schools have full time trainers. These professionals are trained to recognize concussions and keep players from returning to games where they increase their risk for second-impact syndrome and death. The third factor, is the teenage brain. Because teen brains are not fully mature it is more susceptible to second-impact syndrome, which is a potentially fatal situation where a player has not recovered from a concussion and returns to the game to receive yet another hit to the head. So it would appear that with a few modifications and the proper funding, high school football can be made safer. There will always be risks associated with playing football, but let’s not overlook the many rewards. For example, there are 236 Division I colleges, each offering 85 full and partial football scholarships, that means over 20,000 high school students that will get the financial assistance they need to go to college. When smaller colleges are added to the mix that number soars to over 90,000 players receiving financial assistance. (http:// www. Scholarshipstats.com/football.html) Not only are there financial benefits for the students, but the high schools also receive financial incentives which in turn help them purchase the resources they need to provide a quality education. In addition to the financial benefits, there are scholastic benefits too, as players must achieve specific grade point averages to maintain a position on the football team. Other benefits include; learning about hard work, resilience, camaraderie and team spirit plus its fun. (O’Brien and Meehan, MDs) These factors support the belief that it is important to protect players from harm so the benefits can be realized....
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