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Death of High School Football Player Causes Safety Concerns Over Youth Play to Persist

Death of High School Football Player Causes Safety Concerns Over Youth Play to Persist

Last year, high school football saw its deadliest season ever after 11 student players died from injuries believed to be sustained on the field.

The players’ deaths stemmed from a range of circumstances, including practicing in intense heat, but most died as a result of injuries sustained while playing the game.

17-year-old Evan Murray, a senior high school student at Warren Hills High in Washington, N.J., died in late September last year after suffering massive internal bleeding from a lacerated spleen.

In early October, 17-year-old senior at Evergreen High in Seattle, Washington, Kenney Bui, died of blunt force trauma to the head.

The list goes on and while just one death is enough to raise concern, the deadly season forced an uncomfortable conversation about how to approach the popular high school sport going forward to ensure that teenagers survive the game. 

This football season, the conversation is being forced again after yet another high school football player has died from injuries on the field.

17-year-old Andre Jackson of Euclid High School in Euclid, Ohio was pronounced dead after a blow to his abdomen caused a small bowel laceration and peritonitis—or "inflammation of the membrane lining the inner abdominal wall," says CNN. 

Jackson’s death is not the first to be reported this football season; five others have died since July. 

According to CNN, three times as many high school football players die from the sport than college athletes, indicating a major need for reform of safety practices on a national level.

Many experts believe that the level of contact play in high school football should be greatly reduced—with some calling for the ban of tackling all together.

"The coaches of those younger players say 'you have to teach them,' but you don't have to teach them by bashing heads. They [sic] way practice is conducted and how frequently you hit needs to change,” said Robert Cantu, M.D., medical director for the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, to PEOPLE Magazine. 

Further, many high school athletes are not aware of the short- and long-term risks associated with continuing to play the game after suffering from head injuries like a concussion.

In August, new research found that athletes who continue to play after suffering from a concussion can take up to twice as long to recover as opposed to if they had sat out.

"The finding, published in the journal Pediatrics, is believed to be the first to focus on one of the most difficult social challenges of treating concussions: a pervasive sports culture that encourages young athletes to keep playing through pain,” says The New York Times. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics has attempted to improve safety in youth football by releasing a series of recommendations that range from coaches ensuring the absence of illegal contact, keeping athletic trainers on the sidelines during practices and games, and removing tackling from the sport in general.

What do you think? Do you believe there needs to be national reform of safety practices in high school football? Take our poll below.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


Do you believe there needs to be national reform of safety practices in high school football?

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